Monday, November 9, 2009

What's in a name?

One of the first LEGO Mindstorms books I read (I can't remember which one now though), had this wonderful insert in the front that listed all the parts in one of the Mindstorms kits, accompanied by names for each part. It was accompanied by a marvellous quote that read something like, "Half of all the knowledge about something is knowing what to call it." If anyone know where this quote comes from, please let me know.

Some of the problems associated with naming LEGO parts is dealt with in "A Common Nomenclature for Lego Families", by Giles Turnbull.

As for Mindstorms NXT, an engineer at Google recently created a series of posters that list and name all the parts in the NXT Education Base Set (9797).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tasmanians at RoboCup Junior Australia 2009

Congratulations to all the Tasmanians who competed at the recent RoboCup Junior Australia 2009 in NSW.

This was Tasmania's best result in the overall standings with not one, but two, first places!

REMWIZ (Ogilvie High) won the Senior Dance Theatre competition and The Covenant (Rosny College) finally acheived their three year goal to win the the Soccer challenge at the nationals.

Mind you, The Covenant's win was pretty close...

First half:

Second half:

Thanks to Tracey Smith for sending me these links.

Full RCJA 2009 results are available here:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

FIRST LEGO League in Tasmania

More news from Chris Bracken...
FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is starting to loom large on the horizon. The State tournament will be held at MacKillop Catholic College in Hobart on Thursday the 5th November (all day). Due to the number of teams expected to be involved, schools are limited to entering a maximum of 2 teams. FLL combines Robotics and project work in a team environment - This year’s topic is Smart Moves - Transport. It fits very well into the curriculum. An ideal scenario is to run FLL in your science lessons and pick the best team(s) to go to the state tournament or run the Robotics component as a lunch or after school activity and complete the project in class.

For more info go to:
  • - This is the Australian FLL site with info about registration, email lists and tournament details
  • - The US FLL site with info plus video showing you what FLL is all about.
  • - The most useful resource and tip site for FLL on the web (inc. worksheets, scoring sheets and other info)
To register you will need to ring either Anita (Moore Ed) 1800-684068 or Johanna (MTA) 1800-251497. The approximate cost is $150 for the Mat and kit which you can use with a whole class and $100 registration per team competing at the state finals.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Intro to Robotics Course

From Chris Bracken, Proactive PD...
Intro to Robotics Course
9th October 2009 11.00am – 5.00pm
Hobart Adult Education Centre
32-36 Church St, North Hobart

This course is an ideal introduction to LEGO® Robotics and how it can be used in the classroom. Using the LEGO Mindstorms NXT® and accompanying software, participants will be able to tackle a series of challenges that can be used in the classroom.

The course is conducted by Chris Bracken – convener of RoboCup Junior and FIRST LEGO League in Tasmania and winner of the 2009 LEGO Teachers Award for Australia and NZ.

Features of the day will include:
  • The chance to familiarise yourself with programming and some building of LEGO NXT Robotics kits and the latest NXTG software.
  • Access to a variety of hands-on, multi level challenges that you can use in the classroom to extend and assess students.
  • Obtain valuable resources and links to set up, or further enhance, a Robotics program within your school.
  • The latest information on RoboCup Junior and FIRST LEGO
  • League.
  • Ongoing support in helping establish (or build on) a robotics course or club at your school.
Cost for the day is $145 per person which includes the full day workshop (11am-5pm) with expert tuition, lunch and afternoon tea, and ongoing support after the day.

To obtain a registration form, or if you have any queries, please send an email to (Coordinator – Chris Bracken)

Monday, August 10, 2009

MoonBots: A Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO MINDSTORMS Challenge

The X PRIZE Foundation, Google Inc., LEGO Systems, National Instruments, and Wired’s GeekDad recently announced "MoonBots: A Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Challenge".
"The new contest will challenge small teams comprised of children and adults to design, program, and construct robots that perform simulated lunar missions similar to those required to win the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, a private race to the Moon designed to enable commercial exploration of space while engaging the global public.

"Once registration for the contest opens, teams will be asked to submit designs illustrating how they will build, program and operate their robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS robotic kits. There will be no charge to enter the contest and registration will be open to teams across the globe. "
Read more about the challenge, and sign up to their mailing list at:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"The Hippy Hippies" at RCJT 2009

Here is a report from "The Hippy Hippies" (Montagu Bay Primary School) about their experiences at RoboCup Junior Tasmania 2009. I think this might be of interest to SmartBots mentors and teams who are thinking about participating in RoboCup Junior next year.
On Saturday our team (and our mentor!) went to the University to compete in Robocup Junior (a robotics competition). When we got to the Uni we were early and had to sit outside in the freezing cold! When we finally were allowed in we had to register. We were luckily one of the first groups in so we didn’t have to wait long. When we got set up we tested our robots on the test floor. We found our robots crashed and went out of the 3x3 metre boundary. Then we figured we needed to slow it down. So we did… and it WORKED! Time passed and soon enough it was time to go down to the lecture theatre and find out the rules and info we might need to know for the day. When that was over the competitions started… About 5 minutes afterwards it was time for our interview. We did quite well in our interview.

After that it wasn’t long before we had to do our performance! Fortunately our robots behaved themselves and didn’t crash or go out of the boundary! Afterwards we all celebrated and went down to the cafĂ© and got a drink. Meanwhile two of our group went up to check the scores while we all stayed and they came back and broke the news that we were in 2nd place!! Then we celebrated a bit more with a big WOO HOO and went back up to see the rest of the dances. Soon enough we had to do our 2nd dance in the final. That dance didn’t go too well… Our robots went out twice at the end but that was ok!

After a long day and all the dances were finished it was the end. Finally they announced that WE CAME 2ND in Junior Dance Performance!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were all so thrilled! We went up to collect our trophy and get our pictures taken! When we went back to our seats they announced that our mentor’s son and his team mate had won the soccer tournaments! It was an AWESOME! Day!

And lastly we would all like to thank our mentor for all the time and effort she put into helping us make this great achievement.

By The Hippy Hippies

Thanks the Hippies and their team mentor for letting me publish this here.