Thursday, February 23, 2017

FIRST LEGO League Champions Announcement 8: One Week Away

Greetings FIRST LEGO League Champions,

In this post you will find:

  1. Pre-Tournament Letter and Parent's Letter
  2. Advice and Reminders for the Head Referee
  3. Team Checklist!
  4. Jersey Girl Pizza Update

1) Pre-Tournament Letter and Parent's Letter
Both the pre-tournament coaches' letter and an updated parent's letter have been posted on the Championship Information Page. Please take time to read through the coaches' letter. There are MANY things that have been modified for our new venue at Glencoe High School. The team expectations, judging, and core values remain the same, but some of the queuing, permeabilities, and parking information is DIFFERENT!

Big things to be aware of:
  • Main doors are for drop-off only NO PARKING IN FRONT OF THE SCHOOL!
  • No stairs!!!! Everything is on the main floor
  • NO FOOD OUTSIDE OF THE CAFETERIA - including the halls, please respect this and make sure your parents know too!  Water bottles are ok.
  • Seating during the ceremonies will be cozy. Prepare to make new friends!

2) Advice and Reminders for the Head Referee
Greetings Coaches and Teams! This note includes some new information, along with a reminder of some information that was sent in December after the qualifying tournaments.
Do you have questions? Contact Tom Mosher (Championships Head Referee) at <>
General Guidance:
Teams may bring a small table or cart into the competition area for their off-field storage. Or, in addition to the two Technicians, teams may have a third team member who acts as a table. For safety reasons, nothing may be placed on the floor near the competition tables.
Remember when you interrupt your robot, any objects it was transporting, that are not completely in Base, will be removed from the table by the referee and not available for a rerun of the mission.  This is a consequence of the "interruption" rule (R14).  Similarly the "stranding rule" (R15) states any objects a robot has stranded that are partially outside of Base will be removed from the table by the referee.  (Note, however, any objects stranded completely outside of Base are left as is and potentially available for the robot to use from there.)  Please review both of these rules in the Animal Allies Challenge Guide.
Field Setup Notes:
  1. On the Panda slider model (M07), the location of the palm tree shown in the Challenge Guide (page 23) is incorrect. The palm tree will be placed as shown in the kit Build Instructions (Bag 3, see page 1 and 31) - the palm tree will be placed and angled away from the red axle (see the red arrow below):
2) The setup position for the Flamingo should be facing East (this is shown incorrectly in some FIRST sources).

3) The Flamingo and Bat models are shown incorrectly in the Field Setup Guide and the Challenge Guide. They should be built as shown in the Build Instructions - see the red arrows in the images below.

The back of the Flamingo should be inset two rows of studs from the edge of its base.
The Bat should be flush with the edge of its base.

Mission Notes:
M01 Shark Shipment: Per R11, the Shark and Tank can only be loosely combined. For example, after the match if the referee gently shakes the Tank, the Shark should be loose inside the Tank.
M03 Animal Conservation: Teams who perform this mission are expected to exhibit Gracious Professionalism and to not use a non-cooperative strategy. If a team uses a strategy that intentionally prevents the other team in the match from completing this mission, the referees may submit a Core Values Observation.
M05 Biomimicry: Interrupting the Robot while the Wall is supporting the Robot’s weight will result in an “Interruption” penalty and the loss of any Transported Objects (R15). The Interrupted Robot can be left on the Wall, but these penalties will apply. If the team is attempting M05 at the end of the match, the team may not turn the robot off before the match ends.
M06 Milking: Scoring any points on this mission requires all three Milk to roll out. In addition, if any of the Manure rolls out, the lower point value will be awarded. If all of the Milk and none of the Manure roll out, the higher point value will be awarded.
M09 Training and Research: In the definition of Transporting (D10), we interpret “contact” to include indirect contact. To illustrate, if A touches B, and B touches C, then A is touching C.
For example, if the Robot simultaneously moves multiple Manure Samples to the Training and Research Area using a container, the “More” rule for M09 is not met; the Robot is in direct contact with the container, and the container is in direct contact with the Manure samples. Therefore the Robot is in contact with more than one Manure sample.
The “More” rule for M09 applies any time any Manure Samples are being Transported – not just between Base and the Training and Research Area.
M10 Bee Keeping: If the team combines the Bee model with anything, R11 also applies.
M14 Milk on Ramp: For Options 2 and 3, the East or West edge of the Ramp may touch the Mat.

The Refrigerator (from M04) is an example of a model that can exhibit a lot of variability. For example, operating the Refrigerator by pushing on the plunger on the North side of the model may or may not result in the door re-closing as quickly as you expect. The behavior of the door is influenced by a lot of factors, including how far and how quickly the plunger is pushed and released. Robots that use a robust method will be rewarded with more consistent results. The refrigerator door is a very simple mechanism - so a model malfunction ruling is extremely unlikely.

Additionally, teams should expect similar mats to those they encountered at the Qualifying Tournaments. These mats are being stored in a rolled configuration to prevent ripping in storage and transit. The mats will be laid flat on Friday evening during the event setup, and nothing will be added to the mats to help them flatten other than gravity and smoothing by hand.

Smartphones and Bluetooth:
Coaches and mentors are advised against smartphone and tablet use in the Pits, Practice Tables, and the Competition area. The use of smartphones by adults must be limited to such apps as running a stopwatch, taking pictures, or emergency communication. Specifically, the use of any bluetooth-enabled Mindstorms programming application is prohibited under the "no touch" rule, unless the team members are doing the work. Violating the no-touch rule may result in team disqualification.

"We do the work" and the no-touch rule:
The ORTOP "Core Values Observation Policy" includes the following concepts:
  • We do the work with guidance from our coaches. Note that "We" means the team members, not any adults or teen mentors.
  • The team adults are to serve as mentors, not implementers.
  • Giving team verbal directives on programming and building, or during table competition, is a violation of the "no touch" rule.
  • A single flagrant violation of the "no touch" rule - including programming the robot or giving direct instructions to the team during table competition - is basis for award demotion - including disqualification.
These guidelines apply not only at the tournament - they apply during all your team activities during the entire FIRST LEGO League season.

3) Team Checklist!
I have reposted the Checklist for your teams! I know it's been a while since we've had an event. Please don't forget anything critical, use the checklist!

Not on the list, but good to have:
  • Core Values Judges are expecting Core Values Posters
  • One Extra Robot Design Introduction Page for your Pit Table and the Medal Ceremony

Whatever happens, make sure you have:
  • Your team members
  • One lead coach for each team (MUST BE OVER 18), must wear nametag with the star at the event.
  • The robot
  • Your TEAM ROSTER!!!!! and any needed additional consent forms. Even if you turned one in at your December event, your team MUST have a printed forms at this event. ORTOP does not have access to your electronic information in the FIRST system.

4) Jersey Girl Pizza Update
Thank you all teams for your interest in pre-ordering your Jersey Girl Pizzas and Subs! The website is only set-up for day of orders (oops), but the owners assure me that they are MORE THAN HAPPY to take phone orders BEFORE our event. 
Again 10% of all sales for the attendees of the Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League Championship Tournament will come back to ORTOP for use with the FIRST LEGO League program!

Schedules will be posted mid-week. Please find your largest break to schedule for your lunch.

Sadly, I was not able to reserve a room block with a nearby hotel. I will use your teams' interest to see if we can make this happen for next year's Championships. 

Best Wishes,

Monday, February 20, 2017

State Championships and FIRST news

Greetings FIRST LEGO League Oregon

In this post you will find:

  1. Youth Innovation Showcase opportunity - email only
  2. FIRST LEGO League State Championship News
  3. FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship News
  4. WGBH Middle School Coaches survey
  5. Demonstration Teams Needed for FIRST LEGO League Jr.

1) Youth Innovation Showcase opportunity - email only
By request of FIRST and NBC this announcement is only available in the email version of our newsletter.  Don't see our emails, you can sign up here!  Your team does not need to be going to state to apply.

2) FIRST LEGO League State Championship News
The Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League Championships presented by Rockwell Collins will be happening on March 4 & 5 at Glencoe High School. These events are open to the public and a great way for your team to see what 3 more months have allowed these teams to accomplish (thanks to the snow). Starting a new team for the 2017 season? Come see what a competition looks like and meet other teams from your local area!  Opening Ceremonies will be at 9:00am in the Main Gym. Matches will run until ~2:30pm each day. Each day will conclude with an award ceremony. The 1st place Championship team each day, will represent Oregon at the World Festival in Houston, TX in April. 

We are looking for volunteers for several roles. If you are interested in working behind the scenes at a FIRST LEGO League event, we need judges, practice table monitors, queuers, scorekeepers, and many others. Please sign-up using the FIRST system.

Even if your team is not competing please consider attending the tournament. It is a great way to see how others have solved the same challenges, keep inspired, and share the program with your principals and potential supporters.

If you are attending the championship, please look for an email tomorrow with specific details just for your team!

3) FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship News
This coming weekend, February 25 & 26 is the FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon State Championship tournament. This is a great opportunity to see the next level of FIRST competition. Watch live play from 9:30am on the 26th, until 5pm (there will be a lunch break midday) in the main gym of Benson Polytechnic High School, Portland.

If you are an adult who available to volunteer we are still looking for referees and a variety of logistics role help on Sunday. Please sign up in the FIRST Volunteer System.

4) WGBH Middle School Coaches survey
WGBH Education, a National FIRST Affiliation, is looking for feedback about the use of engineering and coding in your school. Help them learn more about how computational thinking might be best taught in middle school classrooms, and you’ll also have a chance to win a $50 gift card! Share your feedback by taking this survey by February 23rd.

5) Demonstration Teams Needed for FIRST LEGO League Jr.
We are in need of 4-8 teams to demonstrate FIRST LEGO League, both the robot game and share your ANIMAL ALLIES Project and of course your Core Values. If your team is available to share at OMSI on March 18 and/or 19 for the morning and/or afternoon expos. 

If selected, your team would bring their robot, prototypes (if you have one) and posters to share during the expo. Team members should be prepared to talk with FIRST LEGO League Jr members about the challenge and differences in the programs. Two coaches are encouraged to talk with FIRST LEGO League Jr coaches about the program.  Demonstrating team members will receive OMSI wristbands. Complete the online form to volunteer!  You will be notified the week after the State Championship.

Monday, February 6, 2017

FIRST LEGO League Oregon Champions Announcement 7: New Assignments are Public

 Greetings FIRST LEGO League Oregon Champions,

We are now less than a month from our rescheduled championship tournaments. Here are some updates for you!

  1. Team Assignments
  2. Pizza Pre-orders
  3. Coming Soon!

1) Team Assignments
Team assignments have been posted on the website. Both the general page and the individual Saturday and Sunday pages have been updated. Sadly, 6 teams have had to decline to participate on the new weekend so our Sunday event will be smaller than the Saturday event. There is no statistical difference between the events so we will not need to adjust any of the awards. Whichever day your team participates we will have a lot of fun celebrating everyone's success!  I am also looking forward to seeing what an extra month has done to all of your robots and projects!

2) Pizza Pre-orders
Immediately across the street from Glencoe High School is Jersey Girl Pizza. Jersey Girl Pizza is a small shop, but is familiar with preparing for events at Glencoe High School. They will be donating 10% of all purchases made during the tournament to Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program for the FIRST LEGO League Program. All teams will need to bring or arrange for their own lunches at the FIRST LEGO League Championship Tournament.
Please use the Jersey Girl Pizza pre-order website to order your pizzas or sandwiches.

3) Coming Soon!
I am working on new documentation and maps for the new event. New schedules are being created for teams. Please be patient as some items change each day or two on the Championship Tournament website. There will be a new parent letter and a new coach letter with information specific to Glencoe High School. A new map is in the works! This year teams will get to celebrate that we are all on one floor!

Please note that there are no changes to the judging sheets or the Team Roster, both of which will be required at the championship.

Thank you everyone for all your help during this change of date and venue. This is a very exciting process. Please keep up all the hard work!

Best Wishes,

Friday, January 27, 2017

Championship Announcement 6: The Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League Championship Tournaments ARE ON!

Greetings FIRST LEGO League Oregon Championship Teams,

In this post you will find:

  1. The New Dates & Location For The State Championship
  2. The Process For New Date Assignment
  3. How to Volunteer - We NEED Volunteers!
1) The New Dates & Location For The State Championship
I am thrilled to announce that Hillsboro School District is able to provide Glencoe High School for the Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League Championship Tournaments on Saturday, March 4 and Sunday, March 5, 2017.

2) The Proces For New Date Assignment
All Championship Teams will receive a link to a Google Form on Monday, January 30, 2017 at 5:00pm. This form will be shorter than the application form that was completed in December. One person from each team should be designated to fill out this form. 

Each team needs to provide:
  • The official team number and lead coach contact information
  • The team day preference (either day, either day with Sat preference, either day with Sun preference, Sat Only, Sun Only, unable to attend either day - officially declining the state assignment, no new teams will be invited)
  • If the team has to drive more than 3 hours to attend the event.
  • How many team members have a conflict and will absolutely not be able to attend if the team does not get their first preference day, if applicable.
  • Would your team be interested in a hotel room block for Friday or Saturday night (if available - we are looking into this now).
Assignments will be done based on the following criteria:
  1. More than 3 hours of travel restricted due to school on Monday - we are no longer on a holiday weekend :(
  2. Teams with conflicts resulting in a significant number of team members unable to attend.
  3. First Completed Google Forms.
  4. Tournament may not exceed 60 team capacity (our pit space is the same size as at Liberty and our schedule can not support more teams)
For all other tournament information your forms that were submitted in December will be used. 

4) How to Volunteer - We NEED Volunteers!
We still need 175 volunteers per day to hold this event. If you were signed up before the postponement please look for an email in the next couple weeks to confirm your availability. If you were not signed up the event is now open in the FIRST Volunteer System. We would love to see you there! 

Best Wishes,

Monday, January 23, 2017

FIRST LEGO League Championship Announcement 5: Dates and Places Still UNKNOWN

Greetings Oregon FIRST LEGO League Championship Teams and Volunteers,

First, I want to say I am very glad all of our teams were able to stay safe during the difficult road conditions caused by the storms earlier this month. Your heartfelt notes thanking us for postponing the state championship did make it easier to see how we had made the right decision (not that the school ended up being open either.)

However, all of this has resulted in our current status. Liberty High School is booked for all of the weekends we could possibly have the state championship. We will NOT have our event at Liberty High School this year. We aren't giving up though! We've looked carefully at the ORTOP competition calendar and chosen the dates February 18 & 19, March 4 & 5, and March 11 & 12. We are approaching all of our partnering schools in the metro area to see who has enough space available for us on one of those weekends to host the tournaments.

We are looking for a space with enough seating for at least 1500 that we can set up 3 competition tables at. This is most likely a large gymnasium, but may also be an auditorium. We are also looking for enough space for 60 6ft pit tables, 15 judging rooms, a volunteer hospitality room (with kitchen), and a space for spectators and teams to eat. The host location needs to be accessible for teams coming from South Oregon and East Oregon, and close to the bulk of our volunteers who currently reside in the and around the metro area. It takes 175 volunteers each day to have a FIRST LEGO League state championship for 60 teams.

I know this isn't the update you all wanted, but it is what I have as of 10am on January 23rd. I hope to turn around an email a confirmation with a location very soon.  Please know we are not giving up on the tournaments at this time.

Best Wishes,

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League Championship Tournaments POSTPONED

To ensure the safety of our participants and volunteers, and to provide the best possible experience for as many teams as possible, ORTOP has postponed the Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League State Championships scheduled to take place this weekend. We will be working with partners to reschedule the tournament for a weekend in the near future. Details for that will be provided as we confirm them. Please watch the official website: for information as it becomes available.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

FIRST LEGO League Championship Announcement 4: Snow, Travel, and Intentions

Greetings FIRST LEGO League Championship Teams,
  1. Schedules will NOT be posted today
  2. Your Response is NEEDED by 11pm January 12, 2017
  3. Both Tournaments Are Still Happening!
1) Schedules will NOT be posted today
In the Coach Pre-Tournament Letter, which I am sure you have all read in it's entirety by now states that schedules will be posted on the website on Wednesday. That will NOT be happening today, please read the other items to understand why.

2) Your Response is NEEDED by 11pm January 12, 2017
I need a coach from EVERY team to fill out this Google Form before 11pm tomorrow!  Teams have already started to contact me about travel problems because of this latest storm to hit Oregon. Some areas may have flooding, others are bogged down in snow. In Hillsboro, there is a fair amount of snow on the ground and schools are currently closed. We do anticipate the schools to be open tomorrow or Friday. It does not appear that the events will be as Winter-Warm as I predicted in my last email, as we anticipate freezing and near freezing temperatures going into the weekend.

Please look at your local weather.
Please check TripCheck.

Talk with your team, then fill out this form. More decisions will be made after every team has submitted a form. Look for more communication soon!

3) Both Tournaments Are Still Happening!
As of 3pm Wednesday, January 11, 2017 both State Championship Tournaments are scheduled to happen on the 14th and 15th. Our volunteers are scheduled (although we still need a few more), our venue is still planning to be open, and we hope that most of you are still planning on attending.

What could cause a cancellation:

  • If Hillsboro School District declares the facilities closed on January 14 & 15 we will not be able to hold the tournaments. We must abide by their facility decisions
  • If the Liberty High School grounds are considered unsafe on Friday, with that situation unlikely to improve by Saturday.
  • If the weather reports are drastically wrong and we get another storm - very unlikely
  • If a significant number of teams (like most of you) are unable to attend because of concerns over safe travel - also unlikely.
  • If the interstates closest to Liberty High School (primarily 26) is closed and there is no viable alternative route. - I've never seen this, but I'll put it on the list so you know I'm looking at everything.
If the tournaments are going to be canceled:
  • Your emergency contact information will be used to notify all teams of a cancellation affecting their tournament AS SOON as ORTOP makes a cancellation decision OR the school district notifies us of building closure. 
  • An email will be sent to this list and a blog posted.
  • I will be on my phone all day making sure that you have been notified.
  • You WILL be asked to fill out a form that acknowledges your team knows the event has been canceled.

Here is a cute video of our animal allies at the Oregon Zoo enjoying today's snow:

Best Wishes,