ROB1 09-Jan-2018 to 12-Jan-2018

Lesson Name:

League Meet #3 Preparation

TEKS – §130.408 (ROBOTICS 1):

  • c.1  – The student demonstrates professional standards/employability skills as required by business and industry. The student is expected to:
  • c.1.A  – demonstrate knowledge of how to dress appropriately, speak politely, and conduct oneself in a manner appropriate for the profession;
  • c.1.B – demonstrate the ability to cooperate, contribute, and collaborate as a member of a group in an effort to achieve a positive collective outcome;
  • c.1.C – present written and oral communication in a clear, concise, and effective manner, including explaining and justifying actions;
  • c.1.D – demonstrate time-management skills in prioritizing tasks, following schedules, and performing goal-relevant activities in a way that produces efficient results; and
  • c.1.E – demonstrate punctuality, dependability, reliability, and responsibility in performing assigned tasks as directed.
  • c.2 – The student demonstrates the skills necessary for success in a technical career. The student is expected to:
  • c.2.D –  discuss ethical issues related to engineering and technology and incorporate proper ethics in submitted projects;
  • c.3 –  The student participates in team projects in various roles. The student is expected to:
  • c.3.A – explain the importance of teamwork in the field of robotics;
  • c.3.B – apply principles of effective problem solving in teams to collaboration and conflict resolution; and
  • c.3.C – demonstrate proper attitudes as a team leader and team member.
  • c.4 – The student develops skills for managing a project. The student is expected to:
  • c.4.A – implement project management methodologies, including initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing a project;
  • c.4.B – develop a project schedule and complete work according to established criteria;
  • c.4.C – participate in the organization and operation of a real or simulated engineering project; and
  • c.4.D – develop a plan for production of an individual product.
  • c.5 – The student practices safe and proper work habits. The student is expected to:
  • c.5.B – comply with safety guidelines as described in various manuals, instructions, and regulations;
  • c.5.F – perform maintenance on selected tools, equipment, and machines;
  • c.5.G – handle and store tools and materials correctly; and
  • c.5.H –  describe the results of improper maintenance of material, tools, and equipment.
  • c.6 – The student develops the ability to use and maintain technological products, processes, and systems. The student is expected to:
  • c.6.A – demonstrate the use of computers to manipulate a robotic or automated system and associated subsystems;
  • c.6.B – maintain systems to ensure safe and proper function and precision operation;
  • c.6.D – describe types and functions of sensors used in robotic systems.
  • c.7 – The student develops an understanding of engineering principles and fundamental physics. The student is expected to:
  • c.7.A – demonstrate knowledge of Newton’s Laws as applied to robotics such as rotational dynamics, torque, weight, friction, and traction factors required for the operation of robotic systems;
  • c.7.B – demonstrate knowledge of motors, gears, gear ratios, and gear trains used in the robotic systems;
  • c.7.D – describe the operation of direct current (DC) motors, including control, speed, and torque; and
  • c.7.E – describe the operation of servo motors, including control, angle, and torque.
  • c.8 – The student develops an understanding of the characteristics and scope of manipulators, accumulators, and end effectors required for a robotic or automated system to function. The student is expected to:
  • c.8.A – describe the relationship between robotic arm construction and robot stability;
  • c.8.B – describe the relationship between torque and gear ratio to weight of payload in a robotic arm operation; and
  • c.8.C – demonstrate knowledge of linkages and gearing in end effectors used in a robotic arm system.
  • c.9 – The student uses engineering design methodologies. The student is expected to:
  • c.9.A – demonstrate an understanding of and discuss the design process;
  • c.9.B – think critically, identify the system constraints, and make fact-based decisions;
  • c.9.C – apply testing and reiteration strategies to develop or improve a product;
  • c.9.D – apply decision-making strategies when developing solutions;
  • c.9.E – identify quality-control issues in engineering design and production;
  • c.9.G –  use an engineering notebook to document the project design process as a legal document; and
  • c.9.H – interpret industry standard system schematics.
  • c.10 – The student learns the function and application of the tools, equipment, and materials used in robotic and automated systems through specific project-based assessments. The student is expected to:
  • c.10.A – use tools and laboratory equipment in a safe manner to construct and repair systems;
  • c.10.B – use precision measuring instruments to analyze systems and prototypes; and
  • c.11 – The student produces a product using the appropriate tools, materials, and techniques. The student is expected to:
  • c.11.A – identify and describe the steps needed to produce a prototype;
  • c.11.B – identify and use appropriate tools, equipment, machines, and materials to produce the prototype;
  • c.11.C – construct a robotic or automated system to perform specified operations using the design process;
  • c.11.D – test and evaluate the design in relation to pre-established requirements such as criteria and constraints;
  • c.11.E – refine the design of a robotic or automated system to ensure quality, efficiency, and manufacturability of the final product; and
  • c.11.F – present the final product using a variety of media.

Lesson Objectives:

  1. The student will prepare the FTC 11242 and/or FTC 12645 robotic system to compete in the upcoming 3rd and final league meet of the contest season.
  2. The student will prepare materials for the team mock interviews to be conducted at the upcoming 3rd and final league meet of the contest season.

Materials Needed:

  1. Robotic Systems
  2. Build Materials
  3. Build Tools
  4. Programming Computer

Description of Lesson:

FTC 11242 will meet for two days this week and FTC 12645 will meet for two days this week. Both teams are to work on final preparations for the upcoming 3rd and final league meet of the contest season.


  • Daily Grade – Meet Preparations (2-Days = 50% each day)

CS1 09-Jan-2018

Lesson Name:

Introduction to and Python

TEKS – §126.33 (Computer Science 1):

  • c.2 – Communication and collaboration. The student communicates and collaborates with peers to contribute to his or her own learning and the learning of others. The student is expected to:
  • c.2.A – create and properly display meaningful output
  • c.2.D – write programs with proper programming style to enhance the readability and functionality of the code by using meaningful descriptive identifiers, internal comments, white space, spacing, indentation, and a standardized program style
  • c.4 – Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making. The student uses appropriate strategies to analyze problems and design algorithms. The student is expected to:
  • c.4.E – identify reusable components from existing code
  • c.4.H – identify and debug errors
  • c.4.I – test program solutions with appropriate valid and invalid test data for correctness
  • c.4.J – debug and solve problems using error messages, reference materials, language documentation, and effective strategies
  • c.6 – Technology operations, systems, and concepts. The student understands technology concepts, systems, and operations as they apply to computer science. The student is expected to:
  • c.6.V – compare and contrast strongly typed and un-typed programming languages

Lesson Objectives:

  1. The student will be able to create a functional user account on and join the Computer Science 1 on
  2. The student will be able to create a basic literal output application in Python of “Hello World”.
  3. The student will be able to create a basic literal output application in Scratch of “Hello World”
  4. The student will compare and contrast the process and output of “Hello World” in both programming languages.

Materials Needed:

  1. Access
  2. Scratch Access

Description of Lesson:

Students will create user accounts on for programming in Python. Students will join the Computer Science 1 class on Students will then create a basic literal Python output program. while also creating the same program in Scratch. Students will create “Hello World” and compare and contrast in both programs.


  • Daily Grade – Creation of Account and Joining Class
  • Quiz Grade – Compare and Contrast Hello World in both Scratch and Python

Robotics Team T-Shirts

Here is a preliminary design that we have for the team t-shirts for the two robotics teams at FHS.

FTC 12645 and FTC 11242 are looking at different ideas for their team t-shirts.

We want to have the team name and/or motto on the front of the shirt, along with the team number, game logo, and teams in the league.

On the back, we want to highlight our sponsors.

Currently, we have grants from Texas Workforce Commission for both teams and from FIRST for FTC 12645. We also have a placeholder logo on the back if a pending grant is awarded.

Finally, we are waiting on the logo from the t-shirt production company who is providing the shirts and printing to us as no charge.

A final design will be selected in the next week or so once we have a final team number from the last team entering the league and we know about the status of our grants.

STEAM: Wisdom from the Front Lines

Region 10Today, I had the opportunity to attend a professional development entitled STEAM: Wisdom from the Front Lines that was held at Brookhaven College and coordinated by Education Service Center: Region 10.

The training brought together, in a single room, STEAM educators from secondary and higher ed in an Ed Camp formatted one-day conference. While K-12 and higher ed coordinate with each other at the higher levels, they rarely coordinate at the local level. Today was a first for many of us.

We got to hear what higher ed would like in our graduates and they gave us ideas on projects and programs that we could implement to get them there. It was very insightful and helpful.

On a selfish note, I have recruited an additional team to our robotics league from Faith Family Academy in Waxahachie!

El Dorado League

Tonight, we had the El Dorado League of North Texas coaches meeting. We had representatives from the majority of the teams present in addition to Dave Davis who was the former affiliate partner for North Texas.

We had a very productive meeting and made many good decisions for future years.

El Dorado League Map

Direct Map Link

The El Dorado League consists of 11 teams spanning a total area of 2,204 square miles!

We have the following teams in the league:

  • FTC 127 – Fighting Pickles
    • Ben Barber Innovation Academy – Mansfield, TX
  • FTC 5443 – Synergy
    • Harmony School of Innovation – Ft. Worth, TX
  • FTC 9402 – CyberSwarm
    • Henderson Junior High School – Stephenville, TX
  • FTC 9403 – Hive of Steel
    • Henderson Junior High School – Stephenville, TX
  • FTC 10143 – TBD
    • Harmony School of Innovation – Ft. Worth, TX
  • FTC 11085 – MHS
    • Mansfield High School – Mansfield, TX
  • FTC 11242 – ERROR 451
    • Ferris High School – Ferris, TX
  • FTC 12645 – The S.C.R.E.W. Ups
    • Ferris High School – Ferris, TX
  • FTC 12650 – Cannot Compute
    • Ferris Junior High School – Ferris, TX
  • FTC 12992 – RoboGladiators
    • Italy High School – Italy, TX
  • FTC 201701690 – Eagle Bots
    • Faith Family Academy – Waxahachie, TX

For the season, we have the following schedule:

Saturday, 21-October-2017 @ 9:00am
  League Scrimmage / Workshop
    Ben Barber Innovation Academy – Mansfield, TX
Saturday, 18-November-2017 @ 9:00am
  League Meet #1 of 3
    Ben Barber Innovation Academy – Mansfield, TX
Saturday, 09-December-2017 @ 9:00am
  League Meet #2 of 3
    Henderson Junior High School – Stephenville, TX
Saturday, 13-January-2018 @ 9:00am
  League Meet #3 of 3
    Italy High School – Italy, TX
Saturday, 20-January-2018 (LOCATION UNCONFIRMED)
  League Tournament
    Mansfield Center for the Performing Arts – Mansfield, TX

FTC Team Names

We now have team names for both of the FHS teams! One of the teams arrived at their name fairly quickly. The other has been debating a team name for the past two weeks!

Here is what we have for the 2017/2018 season.

  • Team: FTC 11242
  • Name: ERROR 451 – Not Available For Legal Reasons
  • Motto: Primo Victoria (First, To Victory)
  • Team: FTC 12645
  • Name: The S.C.R.E.W. Ups
  • Motto: Succeed, Conquer, Repeat Every Week

The graphics design students, under the leadership of Mrs. Hartman are creating tee-shirt designs for both teams to consider for the upcoming season!

FTC Relic Recovery

FIRST-FTC-RelicRecovery17-18-Color-840x700OK. I swear that I did not know anything about the game this year. I wrote a post on May 19th brainstorming what the Relic Recovery game could be. While my guess was off, one of my team building efforts (All Aboard) was pretty close to the balancing stones and the fact that we need a good strong manipulator arm.

This game looks intense at first, but after you decompress it, it’s not really that bad.

We’ve been able to ascertain that this game is not so much about speed of the robot in driving but about its ability to remain balanced with an arm reaching a considerable distance and the ability to build an arm that can accomplish the assigned tasks.

After we all had our “Oh My God!” moment, we started brainstorming and came up with some pretty good ideas. Now, it’s time to start prototyping!

FTC Team Building Efforts

This year I decided to dedicate a considerable amount of time to team building efforts. We start team building at our second meeting and ran through today.

Build a Burger

In this team building exercise, each student has part of a hamburger (printed on paper) taped to their back. They do not know what they have on their back. Some students have a top bun, some a bottom bun, some a beef patty, some are lettuce, some are tomato, one lone students is pickles, and some other are cheese. The purpose of the exercise is to line-up so that you are in order from top to bottom to build a hamburger.

The desired outcome of the exercise is that a leader emerges from the group to take charge of the situation.

Engineering Notebook Conundrum 

In this team building exercise, the students are introduced to a Google Doc which consists of a cover sheet for the team engineering notebook and a second blank page. The doc has been shared with all students they are all instructed to login, go to the second page, and enter their names. All students have editing rights. A completely chaotic environment emerges as students are typing over others and someone will accidentally or purposely delete some or all of the document.

The desired outcome of the exercise is similar to Build a Burger. It forces a leader to emerge from the group to take control of the situation.

All Aboard!

All Aboard - FTC 12645In this team building exercise, students have been stranded across a chain of small islands in the middle of the ocean.

As luck would have it, on the first island, which only has 1 students on it, there is a lifeboat. The lifeboat is two wooden pallets stacked on a center pivot elevated about 3 inches off the floor.

The lifeboat is considered “good” if all corners and sides are off the floor. The first students will be “picked-up” one-by-one on the lifeboat. Each time a student gets on, they must work to balance the lifeboat.

The desired outcome of this exercise is to foster open lines of communication and respect of ideas, regardless of whose idea it is.

Paper Tables

Paper TablesIn this team building exercise, students have to build a table that can, at a minimum, sustain the weight of 10 50-page engineering notebooks. For a challenge, the table should be able to hold the weight of a student.

The constraints of this project require that the base of the table be elevated a minimum of 4 inches from the ground and that the table be constructed of only paper and a limited amount of tape and hot glue. The time constraint is that the table must be built and tested within a single 90-minute class period.

The desired outcomes of this project are (1) foster open lines of communication and respect of ideas, regardless of whose idea it is and (2) solve an engineering problem given limited resources, including the resource of time.

Island Jumping

Island Jumping

In this team building exercise, students start at one location on “dry land” and must “hop” from island to island to reach the “promised land” on the other side.

The islands are made of 5 different pallets spaced at irregular intervals. Some are only 6 feet apart while others are 20 feet apart. Students are not allowed to touch the “water”, which is the floor tiles. If anyone does, the ENTIRE team has to go back to the start.

To help, the team has been given two sheets of poster board, which they can use any way they choose.

The desired outcome of this project is that team members ask questions about “gaps” in the rules. In this case, the poster board can be used to keep the feet of the students out of the “water”. To cover longer distance, the poster board can be torn.

This directly relates to a question that came up in the Velocity Vortex game in the 2016/2017 season. In the end game, teams received points if the cap ball (a large yoga ball) was off the floor. A team asked if you could just push the ball up one of the corner ramps. The national rules committee decided that this was “off the floor” and therefore was eligible for points. Had nobody asked, nobody would have gotten the points.

Split Robotics Teams by Day or Seniority?

FIRST Tech ChallengeFor the past two days, I have been asking both groups of robotics students how they want to be split up.

Currently, I have one stacked robotics class that meets during 3rd period on A-Days with 24 students enrolled in it and I have a second stacked robotics class that meets during 3rd period on B-Days with 25 students enrolled in it.

Ferris High School has two FTC teams (FTC 11242 and FTC 12645). At discussion is whether to have one team be assigned to A-Days and the other team be assigned to B-Days or to have half of the students on each day be assigned to one team and the other half assigned to the other team.

I see advantages and disadvantages to both. If both teams are split half-and-half, it will force them to completely document their process, which was a major problem last year. However, having the entire team together will help build cohesion within the team, which was another problem we had last year.

I have ultimately put it to a vote to the two groups and was surprised with the results.

A-Day Voting
A-Day Voting
B-Day Voting
B-Day Voting

I was genuinely surprised. The A-Day group had 54% apathy for the vote and did not care on the outcome. 29% wanted it split half-and-half. 17% wanted it split between days.

In contrast, the B-Day group had 0% apathy. Everyone voted! 88% wanted to be split between days and 12% wanted it split half-and-half.

So, the decision is to split between the days!

FTC 11242 will be housed on A-Days.

FTC 12645 will be housed on B-Days.