Monday, May 5, 2014

Registration Opens TODAY!!!

Interested in the FIRST LEGO Robotic League this fall?

If you are the parent of a rising 4th or 5th grader, and if your child is interested in the FIRST Lego League (FLL) program, please plan to attend a parent meeting on Monday, May 5th at 5:30 in the Claxton gym.

For the 2014 fall season, the theme is all about the future of learning -- Learning Unleashed! From the challenge preview: “Teams will teach adults about the ways that kids need and want to learn.” Teams will research current solutions and propose innovations of their own.  Each team also designs, builds and programs a robot to compete in a game based on the same theme. Through all of this, teams must embrace the core values of teamwork, community service, "coopertition" and fun. Teams will compete in a regional tournament in November.

There are a limited number of spaces per team, and students must apply to participate. Applications are due Friday May 16th and can be downloaded here or a hard copy can be picked up from Ms. Stewart in the front office. 

At the parent meeting, learn more about the program, what students can expect and the commitment required to participate.  We also need parents to make this happen!  If you may be interested in helping to coach or mentor a team, please come!

If you can't attend, please contact Jenny Manner at or Sarah Thornburg at

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Recap of Hotshots Monday 9/23/2013

We divided the problems into humans and animals. We discovered that there were not that many WNC wildfires that caused the animal habitat destruction that we were hoping to find. “How could you create an emergency shelter for misplaced pets” was one thing she brought up that could be a problem/solution even though we have not encountered it, per se, here in WNC. Thus, some of these potential problems are things that MAY happen in WNC, but not necessarily something that DID happen. I know Sally hit a few roadblocks with research and  Pascale was frustrated with research as well, as problems from WNC fires seem to be limited (lucky us!)

The human problems that we looked at and will, hopefully, vote on on Friday are:
  • Erosion caused by trees burning. Could lead to mountain slides erosion could harm our water supply…
  • Fruit trees burning. Thinking of Hendersonville and the farmers not having any income
  • Smoke related problems for those with sinus/asthma
  • Houses/shelter/hospitals burn.
  • Defensible space -- How do we arm ourselves against flammable surroundings? 
  • Lack of electricity
  • Lack of water/contaminated water

We did NOT get to the animal problems yet, as we ran out of time. Once we played our core values and had snack, then discussion time was limited as I had to leave, but I was very encouraged at how much they wanted to discuss water problems. (perhaps Tim’s notes were soaking in). Would be neat to steer (gently) in that direction as it is a current/real problem in WNC when dirt and ash end up in our watershed.

For Monday, we plan to continue discussion of problem and land on one (either human or animal) and also brainstorm solutions.

Homework:  Look at the above human problems, find two that they like and research a possible solution, plus ALSO come in with 3 possible general animal problems.

Project Update -- Piermont, NY

Team Hurricane Hunters spent the first half of practice on Monday sharing their research findings.  They were fantastic!  We got a lot done, and we still have some gaps to fill.  So, homework...

More than one team member references a video Sandy, the Aftermath.  I promised to find and post it.  I'm not sure which is right, but I trust the kids will let me know.  Pick one:


We decided that it would be VERY helpful for everyone to understand a little bit more about the town.  Anna did a great job helping us understand the topography.  We agreed that EVERYONE should have a look at Piermont on Google Maps.  Please take a few minutes to flip through the different views -- satellite, map and terrain.  Very informative!

Remaining and follow-up questions:

  • Gray - How long did the storm last?  Two parts:  How long over the life of the storm and how long in Piermont?
  • Hudson - Possible follow on questions:  How many students could not go to school?  How many people were out of work due to storm damage?
  • Margaret - Cost of storm damage?
  • Charlotte - General facts about Sandy.
  • Anna - What's the difference between a hurricane and a super storm?
  • Lilith - When did Sandy officially become a super storm?
  • Attia - Does Piermont have an emergency manager?  If so, who it it?
And, an interesting question came up... What happened to all that trash?  Will, want to look into that?

I will post a link to the article Lilith found when I get it so everyone can read that too.  

Great work, Hurricane Hunters! 

First Whack at Missions

On Monday we had some exciting times!  We took our first whack at breaking down missions!  

Before a program can be written to accomplish a task, the kids have to understand the minute detail in order to communicate the task to the robot.  So...

We started with two volunteer "robots" -- we had Gray and Anna act as sample robots – demonstrating that if you follow the same directions but start from two different places, you don’t get the same result. Then the idea that base is a box with tall sides.  Then that you can use a jig made ONLY of Legos. Then the idea that the table sides of the base are the FIXED elements, so make a very reliable place to start.  We covered that A, B & C are motor ports and that 1,2,3 are sensor ports.  Then quickly showed breaking down a mission (not one they would be using to start).  

Last 10 minutes of practice!  3 kids from HS/2 kids from HH on obstacles (with me), 4 kids from HS/3 kids from HH on People & Pets with Eric in the hall, 3 kids from HH with Blake trying to fix/prep the cargo plane. ONLY ONE ROBOT!  The plane is still in process.  Eric's group came away with a page full of notes.  And, the kids looking at obstacles made some great discoveries about the obstacles mission. 

It was frantic, but it felt like success in the end!  Good work!

Now, who's ready to get started programming?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mapping Tool for Project


-->Map it Out! Our friends at Esri, an international supplier of Geographic Information System (GIS) software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications, have graciously provided links to maps as a resource for teams for their Project. These interactive maps show places before and after a natural disaster, as well as real-time information about potential and existing natural events. Once there, click the “GIS Aids Disaster Relief” tab. For more Challenge Resources, check out

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Team Hurricane Hunters

The team chose a name Friday (kudos to Amy Jones) and now we have great identity!

Here are some things that would be great for Friday:

  1. We are in dire need of sponsorship.  This program requires us to have money to pay for the tournaments and fees for robots.  If you know of anyone that would like to sponsor a team, please let us know.  I know we are super needy with wanting parent volunteers.  But this does not require your time with the team, only a couple of phone calls to someone you know that may want to sponsor a team.

    (example:  we need rechargeable batteries for robots and they are $60 a piece.  We don't have this in our budget.)
  2. I have called Deltec homes to see if we can do a field trip to their site.  They build a hurricane resistant model home.  I will let you know what happens with this when I know something.  But if you have any ideas for a field trip, or who can come talk with the kids, let us know.
  3. Jenny sent a site about the Hurricane Hunters Association - reconnaissance squadron of the air force.  Please have your child review the site so we can discuss on Friday.


Hot Shots - Update from Monday

With the help of Amy we picked the team name of the Hot Shots!  This took longer than expected, as there was not a consensus for a while, so a few extra votes to narrow the field. The word “BOOM” was chosen as the “runner up” of sorts, and so we promised to use it in a chant.

We also are VERY excited to design our logo, though we are uncertain if we will use the firehouse, as our solution may not be water based. But, we like flaming letters. 

Eric took Ashton and Fiona to work on the table.  

Jenny took Sebastian and Sally to work on robot.

That left me with Pascale, Ainsley, Melena and Dominique as planned.
We got a great deal accomplished:
  1. We decided on a specific community… drum roll… WNC! We looked at field trip and other opportunities and though Melena made a strong case to go to California. “My mom will, you know, just give us a few thousand dollars for plane fare” we ultimately came to the conclusion that we could learn from local folks including:
    a. We have a forest ranger coming on Friday
    b. The local schools, perhaps Warren Wilson forestry folks
    c. Local firefighters
    d. NC Firewise etc.
  2. We also discussed interview techniques and how not to ask yes or no questions and did a little role playing. 
  3. Dominique had some research as did Ainsley and we shared it. We broke down the terms “wildfire” and “vegetation” and others.