Friday, March 11, 2011

Are You Up for Robotics This Weekend?

Body Forward Competition mat (8x4)


From almost the minute I retired in 2002, I have been involved with FIRST LEGO League (FLL) in New York City, one of three tournaments going on at the Jacobs Javits center this weekend. The ages of kids involved are 9-14, which covers elementary, middle school and 9th graders in high school. All competing at the same level.

There is even a Junior FIRST LEGO League exhibition for kids aged 6-9.

I have run a blog devoted to NYC FLL robotics for years:

FIRST ( is an orgnization that promotes Science and Technology among school age children. This weekend is the NYC Championship Tournament at Jacob Javits Center.

There will be several competitions going on simultaneously.

Friday will be FRC's (FIRST Robotics Competition) practice competition day.

Saturday will be FRC qualification matches and FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) championship matches.

Sunday will be be FRC's championship matches as well as FLL (FIRST Lego League) and Jr. FLL champioship matches.

I work with FLL on Sunday. This year we had 200 teams from NYC - public, private, charter, home-schooled, community centers start out. We held qualifying borough tournaments in January to choose the final 80 teams going to the NYC championship on Sunday. The winner goes on to the World Festival in St. Louis in April. If you show up on Sunday, look for me near the FLL pit area. You might see schools like Dalton seated next to schools from Bed-Stuy. This is one of the great social mixing events you can find.

What is FLL? Each year there is a theme. This year is Body Forward: engineering meets medicine. Check it out here. I have a kit in my house - there is an 8x4 mat with a giant human body on it and the robots have to navigate and accomplish tasks like putting a stint in. Great stuff.

The "game" is played on a table with about 15 teams trying to gain as many points as possible in 2 and a half minutes. But that is only a part of the event. Each team does research on the topic and present to a panel of judges. And they also present a technical presentation telling the judges how they solved the problems.

Teams are 10 kids but many schools bring cheerleaders and boosters and lots of parents. who often gaze in wonder at the energy of the day. Lots of awards and trophies given out. And a medal to each participant. Want to see kids, teachers and parents having a blast? BE THERE!

Check out this article on the Brooklyn qualifier.

The 3 day FRC high school event attracts 66 teams, some from around the world (Brazil, Hawaii). These are big robots, 6 on the giant field at the same time - 3 against 3. See these high schoolers from elite schools mix and work with kids from all over the place. (Check out the list and the heavyweight sponsors).

I won't go on. I'm too excited. I'm heading down to Javits to hang out today (my wife's mah jhong crew has arrived is the real reason) before the heavy lifting on Sunday. Here is some info if you want to check it out. All free and open to the public.

Oh, has there been any support from the NYC DOE for this amazing event that involves so many NYC schools and students doing the very opposite of test prep? Go ask them.

Here is some info from my robotics blog.

See lists of all the teams and the sponsors:
Solar Powered Bike Will Be At Javits Robo Event March 13
An event this big need a lot of people to pull it off. We have hundreds of volunteers already but we are still in need of more. We would greatly appreciate your help. Registration closes tomorrow, however we do take walk-ins on each day of the event. We also welcome spectators. If you you dont desire to volunteer then please do come to any of the events and observe the cheer intelligence and creativity of children younger than 8 years to 18 years doing things most engineers didn't learn until college.

Please join us.

To those who volunteer you will be given a free t-shirt for the event, as well as breakfast and lunch. Further information can be found via or directly via

Hope to see you all there!

Email Norm if you want to help:


  1. I'll be there Sunday to support the Packemin team! See you there.

  2. I'll be at the pit entrance to the FLL most of the day.

  3. Speaking of robots, why not invite TFA to participate?

  4. I was there today. Great, fun & exciting atmosphere. I was a judge for FLL and I am proud to say that one of my groups won "The Team Spirit" award. Go team! So proud!


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