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2014 First Class




The final stages of preparation are ending and the website has been updated to reflect this year’s work.

The kids started their work i

n the late summer, when they spent time learning the GameMaker programming language. Some of the kids also learned to mak

e animations with AnimeStudio.

The kids used the month of September to complete a beta version of their project in anticipation of the Mini-Maker Faire Presentation on October 3rd and 4rth. The kids did great and made some new friends! The kids wrote a video game to teach other kids how to move from Bystander to Ally to Stop Bullying. The kids designed t-shirts that integrated a unity hand symbol and used the color pink for anti-bullying. Across Canada, kids wear pink shirts as a statement against bullying. Their research and the game are available on the 2014 First Class Page.

The kids started working on the robot game right after the Mini-Maker Faire. They had some great ideas for their robot this year. Those files will be published after the Vermont Qualifier.




Rockwell Automation: Engineer the Future

First FLL Team 7401, aka The Green Mountain Gears completed their first “elevator pitch” for entry into the Rockwell Automation: Engineer the Future Competition. Andrew Kim and Luke Fitzgerald partnered to make the 1 minute video that proposes their goal, to build a play-based generator for use at recess in their school.

The boys came up with the idea while working on a computer programming competition, Energy Boss, through Carnegie Mellon’s CS2N program in the spring, which they won. While researching energy, the boys came across a TEDx talk by Julia C. Silverman, co-founder of Unchartered Play, who revealed a design and prototype of a soccer ball that charges a battery while kids play soccer. The ball was designed for use in off-grid areas, such as remote Africa, and the video illustrated kids being able to read at night or study by attaching a light source to the battery in their soccer ball. This made the boys wonder, “Could we do something like that?”

Andrew and Luke envision recess where the energy used in play can be captured and used to power electronics. They plan to design and construct a prototype generator for the science fair this winter. Their preliminary plan is to modify a basketball stand and net such that the a ball will go from the net to a tube, which will guide the ball past several wheels, within the tube, that will be attached to small generators along the basketball stand. The ball will be returned to the player through a bend at the bottom of the tube and the electricity will be stored in a battery.

The boys completed the video during an early release day from school. This competition created an opportunity for the boys to learn how to make a 1-minute elevator talk, which took nearly 10 different versions to get the presentation within time. The boys also created original art work and wrote and performed an original musical score.

Winners are determined by an internet vote, starting 11/11 with a top prize of a new robot and free registration for next next year’s FLL season. Please visit the site and vote for their project. Anyone is allowed to vote and a person can vote once daily between the 11th and the 29th. There will be a link on the site once the competition begins. There will be a link on the site once the competition begins.

Music Score


2013 Project Page-Flood Trek

The team used consensus to select Vermont and Flooding as the events they would research. The team reached these decisions by prioritizing local experts and experiences. Parts of Vermont were devastated following Tropical Storm Irene and the team felt that these wounds would make information easier to access and problems more readily available.

The team contacted close to a dozen experts in order to learn more about flooding. Jenn Kimimch, from the Alchemist, agreed to meet the team. She is a co-owner of the Alchemist Brewery in Vermont, which was destroyed by the flooding. She changed her business model after the flood and learned that flood insurance does not cover items in a basement. She lost nearly $500,000 as a result of losses from the storm. She explained that she closed the brewery for the night believing that she would lose power. However, the flooding prevented her from returning for several weeks. When she returned, she discovered that her community was covered in human waste, toxic chemicals and storm debris. She explained that she saw oil tanks and trees floating through town. She also explained that she had to wear a hazmat suit to remove items from her basement. Jenn discusses a number of problems she faced in the storm and suggested that the team consider an insurance app or a robot to help with debris removal.

The team also met with Tom Messner, the Head Meteorologist for WCAX. Tom explained that Irene was difficult to forecast because the amount of water in the ground and falling from the sky is difficult to know. He explained that there are very few weather stations in Vermont so the fine details are difficult to know. He encouraged the team to explore a crowd sourcing weather app that would allow local users to submit the local temperature, humidity and so on. He also thought it would be good for the app to allow users to submit pictures of their locations to illustrate flooding.

The team finally met with a Colonel from the US Army, who participated in a number of emergency responses, including Irene and Katrina. He explained that the military responds after a civilian government has requested help. He went on to explain that people are not ready for storms and that it make take days or weeks for help to arrive. He explained that the most important thing in a storm is preparation. People need to be self-reliant until help can arrive. He shared some pamphlets from and explained that September was “Get Ready” month.

The team discussed the pros and cons of each idea and decided. The team decided against the insurance app because they were not passionate about possessions. The team decided against the storm debris removal robot because there were other robots and it was beyond their current skills to build a prototype. The team decided against the weather app but had good plans to develop the app. The team decided to write a storm preparation game because they thought that changing attitudes about storm preparation would be the most important thing because it could save lives. Several members of the team had experience writing programs in Scratch so the team was confident they could complete the game and share it with the public.

The team set-out to write a game in Scratch that would emphasize the stages of surviving a flood: preparation, moving to safety, evacuating. The team brainstormed a list of games and decided to use classic video games from the 1980’s because those games were simple to program.  The first stage was inspired by Pac Man and requires the user to move through a maze finding resources for a storm preparation kit, such as food, water and maps. Once this level is completed, the user moves into a level that was based on donkey kong. The user runs up a series of ladders and avoids the rising waters to get to their safety spot to wait for the flooding to stop. The final stage is similar to Frogger, where the user needs to move across a stage avoiding floating trees and oil barrels.

The first version of the game is at this link:

The team conducted research using the internet to determine that the Colonel was correct and that most Americans are not prepared for a storm. The team also learned that many game designers are using gaming to change peoples attitudes about things. The team decided that there was reason to proceed with the game as a solution to storm preparation.  The team also took some time to develop a survey monkey survey to evaluate whether the game did or did not change peoples attitudes about storm preparation.

Links for the surveys are here:

Post game:

The team completed a project board and presented their solution at the 2013 Maker Faire. Hundreds of people attended the fair and virtually all of them visited our presentation. The team installed a field table most of the tasks in place. The team also brought a trial version of their current robot design and demonstrated how to solve several of the tasks. The team also displayed the computer program and explained their project. The team participated in shifts so everyone took some time to present.

Preliminary feed-back of the game design indicated that the team should develop a single character for all of the levels. The team also felt that they should add some images from Irene when a user is not successful at a particular stage. The team hopes to get their game written in a different language for distribution on the app store.