questionsdoes anyone have any experience with the first…

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My wife's team won second place in their Botball event which uses mindstorm Lego products on a board. Is this the same thing?

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@kbsig106: I think this is different. From what I've gathered there are multiple competition for different grade levels. In this one the kids are given a set of different things that must be achieved...move this thing from here to there, flip the randomly arranged tiles so that only black is showing, turn the wheel a set number of times, etc. Each bit is laid out in a specific place on a game space. The kids program the robots to perform the tasks autonomously, can swap out parts but only when the robot is in the base area, etc.

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That sounds really fun - good luck! I don't have experience with this particular team, but I participated in Odyssey of the Mind (similar) back in HS and also done some work with Junior Achievement recently. I have two pieces of advice:
1. Read the rules/instructions very carefully. On my HS team we lost points because we thought we were being creative about something and the judge didn't agree that it met the criteria. It was something we could easily have changed had we realized it was questionable.
2. If you don't already know the personalities of the kids, try and get to know them as best you can to help with the team dynamic and make sure the shyer kids are getting their ideas out. If this is for HS ages, it is important that they learn to fend for themselves as well, but try and put a system in place that will allow that happen more easily.

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My daughter was on a FTC team last year and will do it again this year. The FIRST Tech Challenge is for older kids (grades 9-12) and also uses the same Lego Mindstorms Brick controller (albeit with different firmware).

While I wanted to get involved, I did not act as a mentor last year, because my daughter did not want me to do so. I did go to the regional competition, where her team did reasonably well, and had a great time.

This year she does not seem as opposed so I may get more involved as they are forming teams this week. (Her high school is fairly large (over 4500 kids) and fields about a dozen teams, two of which went on to the national competition last year.)

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Check out the FIRST web site for lots of great information: http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/fll
Also, when you registered the team, you should have received a Coach's Handbook. It walks you through everything you need to know to run a team.
Finally, check out this book from Amazon, lots of great tips for building winning robots: Winning Design!: LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Design Patterns for Fun and Competition

Good luck and Have Fun!

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@gt0163c: Good luck to the team, sounds like another cool thing to do with the Mindstorm products.

This was what I was mentioning: http://www.botball.org/