Hard at Work

So much efficiency in the BotCave today.

The team broke up into hardware and software teams to get some good work done. Our new members of outreach have started to learn the ropes of the software we use to make the team videos. I wish them the best of luck. Hopefully I won’t be dedicating too much time to the video and I can concentrate on my blog. Whoops did I say hopefully? I meant unfortunately. All jokes aside, making the video is fun and I’m sure the girls will enjoy it.

Some highlights of today have been Justin’s supervising skills and Ryan’s carrot-based innovations. Also, we have a tentative strategy up on the board. It looks pretty solid if you ask me. This just in: Ryan can eat a whole taquito in one bite. In other news, I’m told the software team is learning the ins and outs of Java. All in all, it was a fairly productive day.

Square Dancing

Or square programming, so to speak.

Today we’ve returned to the good ol’ Botcave. On top of that, we’ve returned to work on programming. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. One of the things the kids were asked to do today was to program the robots to move in a square formation, hence the title of my blog. I’m clever, I know. A few of the first tries at this challenge yielded some creative interpretations of the concept of “square”. There were some rectangular squares, some straight squares, and even some round squares. Eventually the square was conquered by our talented youths, and they moved onto bigger and better things.

Namely, they moved onto programming the robot through an obstacle course of sorts. I will do my best to explain to you the course the robots were asked to take, but it might be ambiguous and confusing. It will make more sense if you’ve seen the gameboard. If you would like to see the gameboard, you’re welcome to take a look at my previous blog. (You could even read it if you want.) Anyways, back to the obstacle course. The robots are supposed to begin in the start box, push through the downspouts into enemy territory, go back through the downspouts into friendly grounds, and park the robot between two blocks set up by Mr. Gras. This description makes perfect sense to me, I hope it made some sense to you. Basically what I wanted to get it is that the kids are doing a little bit of complex programming. Complex to me, at least.

Here I am, waiting for one of the robots to experience a miserable failure so I can relay it to you in the wittiest fashion possible, but it seems that everyone is being successful. How incredibly boring. Only kidding of course, success is the best!

The only major failure of the day.
The only major failure of the day.

Gameboard: Unleashed!

As you can probably tell from the title, this year’s gameboard was revealed to the team for the first time today.

This year’s board (which I will insert a picture of) is supposed to be a coral reef. I’ve probably never seen something look less like a coral reef, but who am I to judge. The board has many exciting new features, including but not limited to: rotating downspouts in the middle of the fence-looking contraption. It’ll make more sense (sort of) after you take a good look at the board.

Hello Gameboard 2012!
Hello Gameboard 2012!

Regrettably, I had to come late today, but I was told I missed a riveting game of “Robo Rally”. I came too late to catch the explanation, but according to the box next to me, it’s “A frenzied race filled with COMPUTER. DRIVEN. CHAOS.” So it’s pretty exciting.

After Mr. Gras passed out the paper with the gameboard and scoring method, we were instructed to start thinking about a strategy, then the part-sorting frenzy began. There are children everywhere on their hands and knees searching through a plethora of lego parts. Occasionally they pick up a part, hoping it’s the one they’ve been looking for. Many times, their faces droop as they return a misidentified piece to the colorful abyss from which it came. I took a quick blog-break to try my hand at sorting. I sat next to Brian as he searched for an elusive gray lego, stretched my arm out into the pile, and began to search. Apparently picking up handfuls of random legos and giving them to Brian wasn’t helpful. He sarcastically remarked, “This must be why you’re on outreach. You’re just so good at reaching… out.” Your pun is not appreciated, Brian.

Senior Brian Edmonds cries in agony, unable to locate his piece.
Senior Brian Edmonds cries in agony, unable to locate his piece.

Scorned and dismayed, I have returned to my post on the couch in order to relay this valiant story of trial and error to you all.

Just as I promised in last week’s blog, I have the results of the bridge competition. Team Ryan-Mikey-Kelly won. However, let the records that Kelly did nothing to aid in this victory. Her most helpful contributions were the times she got up to get food so that she wasn’t annoying Mikey and Ryan as they worked. I think it was those fleeting moments of her absence that carried the team to glory, but I suppose that’s just my professional opinion. I have a little time left, so I guess I should go attempt to be useful in the part sorting process. Hopefully this time it will be more fruitful than my first endeavor.

Let the Games Begin

No work and all play makes for the most interesting day.

There are so many kids in the ABC (alternate BotCave) today! Sticking with tradition, the first few times we meet, everyone participates in building and programming games to get everyone ready for the season ahead. We have so many new members this year I can hardly even keep track! I hope everyone enjoys themselves and keeps coming back.

Returning to the subject of today’s blog– the games. Today the challenge is to build a bridge between two boxes. The bridge has to support a plastic container, which in turn has to hold up to twenty rolls of pennies. The way you win is as follows: you build the bridge, you put as many weights as possible in your bridge, and then the weight of your pennies is divided by the weight of the bridge. Whoever gets the highest number as a result of that equation wins. The prize, as always, is worthless bonus points. Invaluable, I know.

The winning bridge demonstrates its strength.
The winning bridge demonstrates its strength.

I wish it was a bridge decorating contest, because if so, I would win. I’m sure of it. Unfortunately, I have to leave early today, so the results of the competition won’t be up here until next week. Hold your breath, I can only imagine how thrilling the games will be. They get pretty cut-throat. Hopefully Albert will add some pictures to this blog for me (Albert, if you’re reading this, hint hint). Next week I think we’re moving on to programming games. How exciting!

Apparently catapults were built after I left. Everyone loves a good catapult.
Apparently catapults were built after I left. Everyone loves a good catapult.

Lazy Day in the BotCave

No school for us Catholic School kids.

Joe, Albert, and I have decided to spend a portion of our day, or all of our day in Albert’s case, at the BotCave. This is going to be a fairly short post seeing as we’re shorthanded and we haven’t been here very long.

Albert and Joe have gotten “PerfectBot” to actually run the way it’s supposed to, imagine that. Albert discovered that there in fact is a real life use for precalc and she got a haircut! That’s really all that’s happened today, but I thought I’d keep you guys updated.