Robot Base Design First, I'll show students how to build a robust and capable robot base (using LEGO Mindstorms EV3) that drives straight and gets to where it needs to go RELIABLY. LEGO parts are inherently unreliable, and it’s difficult to build a robot base that functions excellently unless you have years of experience (or expert advice). If you gloss over this step, you’ll end up wasting countless hours of valuable programming time later in the season trying to figure out why your robot won’t drive straight. I’ll demonstrate excellent robot design by turning on my lab cameras and building a new FLL robot from scratch. I’ll brainstorm, prototype and fine-tune my design right in front of you, explaining my thought process as I go. Attachment Design / Mechanical Alignment I’ll show you how to construct ideal mechanical attachments (a.k.a. implements) for your robot so that you can accomplish FLL missions easily and reliably. We’ll design specialized Alignment Implements (bumpers, jigs, wedges, one-way-doors, etc.) to help your robot align against walls and mission models mechanically. With skillful implement design, you won’t have to rely on precise robot movements or accurate launches from base. Programming Learn how to write, debug and optimize programs in the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 language. I will show you how to use sensors to optimal effect without overcomplicating your strategies. Learn how to use gyro (gyroscopic) sensors, touch sensors, light sensors, color sensors and ultrasonic sensors to great effect (free hint: don't use ultrasonic sensors for FLL... they're too unreliable). I'll also show you how best to format, deliver and explain your programs to the judges. Robot Handling This is one of the MAJOR differentiators between the teams who win top awards for Robot Performance and the teams who end up severely disappointed in their robot’s outcomes at the tournament. How to be the best robot handler possible. We’ll go over timing and prioritization strategies, and Michael will show you how to plan out and choreograph your movements during the round without losing your ability to pay attention and improvise. Michael will demonstrate his “Zen Robot Handling” method by choreographing his own robot handling movements on camera (using a demo setup) and showing you how he would train himself to optimize speed and consistency. Strategy, Project Management, and Teamwork Michael will lay out his overall approach to the robot game, explaining his most successful time management and prioritization strategies. He’ll propose timelines and objectives for you, but you’ll be setting your own priorities and deadlines. You’ll have a lot of difficult decisions to make (as a team), and Michael will help you learn to think through those decisions wisely. He’ll also propose methods for collaborating, splitting up tasks, giving useful homework, and generally optimizing your teamwork with the robot game. TESTING This is the big one. It’s fun to talk about building and programming strategies, but you’ll be spinning your wheels and working in circles unless you can learn to test your designs EFFECTIVELY. I don’t just mean running programs to see whether or not they work… that’s not testing. I’m talking about the scientific method. And I happen to be trained in science, so I take methodology. I’ve conducted psychophysics research and published experiments in the peer-reviewed Journal of Vision, but the vast majority of my knowledge and experience comes from the thousands of hours I spent testing robots in ’05 and ’06 before those world championships. Kids usually fall into one of two traps with testing: either (1) they obsessively test their programs but don’t pay attention to the right details, and thus don’t actually learn much from their hours of testing, or (2) they don’t test their designs under the right conditions, thus their tests are invalid and they make bad decisions. In either case, kids will tend to get frustrated and just “go with their gut” instead. Not only does this result in poorer performance, but it short-circuits the learning process! Once your kids have learned to test like a true scientist/inventor, they will have graduated into the real FIRST LEGO League… the game of discipline and imagination that taught me almost everything I know. As an added bonus, they’ll be able to sleep soundly the night before the competition knowing that they’re ready. Note: Robot Academy is not officially affiliated with FIRST or with LEGO. You don’t need to join our programs in order to compete in the FIRST LEGO League. FIRST provides new teams with basic resources including an explanation of the 2017 challenge.
Access Michael's complete Robotics Masterclass, which will include regular updates and additions throughout the 2017 FLL season. The course can be joined at any time and completed at your pace. You will be invited to create accounts for up to 10 team members and 2 coaches. Students can watch the videos from home on their own computers and come to meetings ready to be productive (as teachers, we call this "flipping the classroom").BONUS for enrolling before October 31: schedule a free 90 minute private FaceTime tutoring session with Michael to ask him specific questions.Provide your team with the resources they need to have the most productive, successful and educational FLL season imaginable!
Team Tuition: $845 for 12 accounts (to split the tuition across multiple credit cards, contact us via email)