Inspiring Minds….

This past weekend was the Seminole High School SpecTECHular FTC Qualifying Tournament.  There were 16 Robotics teams participating, some from as far away as Miami!  It’s always great meeting kids from out of the Tampa Bay area.  It was a crazy tournament.  One minute you’re on top, the next minute another team has bumped you off!  The kids were consistent and on top of their game the whole day.

Proud Winners

Team Brick Buddies has a fantastic showing– being awarded the top award of the Tournament, the Inspire Award and then went on to win with their robot as part of the Winning Alliance with Minotaur from Middleton High School. The team also secured a bid to the State Championship, February 18th in at Embry-Riddle University.


Start A Jr. FLL Team in Tampa!

Do you have a child that loves building with LEGO or learning about the way things work?  Or maybe LEGO isn’t really their thing, but they are a good friend and work well together in a team setting.  Those are skills kids work to develop as part of the noncompetitive program, Jr. First LEGO League, for children who are between the ages of 6-9.  We are a FIRST Robotics team that is helping grow and mentor new Jr. FLL teams this season in the Tampa Bay area.

William shares a Jr. FLL model

We are encouraging parents and teachers to start new teams at their schools, a community center or even start one in your own living room!  Jr. FLL is a low cost program and you can tailor the program to run anywhere from a month to 6 or 8 weeks.  To recognize Jr. FLL Teams, we are hosting a Jr. FLL Expo, Saturday April 7th at the Glazer Children’s Museum.   Start a team!  Check out our Jr. FLL section and download our Resources.  We help answer your questions and give you a curriculum to get you going! Get involved with FIRST today!

Middleton Madness Tournament

Well, we survived our first FTC Tournament.  We had a fantastic day!  Both the team and robot performed great– way beyond our expectations.  Everyone from tournament officials, to the Refs, to the Florida Director of FTC kept saying how impressed they were with how well the kids were working together in the Pit and Driving on the Field.  FTC is a great program!  The matches are exciting and challenging and chaotic.  You’re up; you’re down!  You’re against one team, one round and alliances five minutes later!  It’s quite a roller coaster. I am proud of how our kids handled themselves their first time out!  We also learned, we still have a lot to learn.  We’re novices at strategy and scoring.  We had no idea what QP and Ranking Points were or their importance.  We lacked scouting skills and really didn’t think we’d need to utilize them until we found ourselves an Alliance Captain in our very first tournament.  Can’t possibly know everything in one go-round!  And couldn’t have asked for a better experience.  What a great day day!

Team Brick Buddies wins PTC Design Award


Taking a break from our own FTC Robot, team member Alex Pillai is passing on his love of FIRST robotics to a new crop of kids over at Lomax Elementary, where he used to go to school! Alex, who has benefited from mentors himself, realized what a great help it was, and has made the ongoing commitment to this First LEGO League team for two years!   Lomax Robopanthers are an FLL team of 4th and 5th graders.  Alex visits practices on Wednesdays to help with the Robot Game and is a great assistant for Coach, Greg Verrill.


Busy Building

Well, it’s time to get down to business.  Being a small team, we’re at a slight disadvantage and everyone has to really take on specific roles so that everything on the Task Lists gets accomplished.  We split up our practice so the programmers could focus on some autonomous programs and playing with the sensors we decided to use this season.  Meanwhile, the Build Team worked separately to get the first part of chassis going, while we are waiting on a part order from PITSCO.  Thanks to Coach, Paul Bresnan for helping us keep everything in perspective.

Who Said We’d Be Building Robots??

There has been a lot of team effort going on with Brick Buddies team members and parents this past week!  The Pillai Family devoted a weekend to making our rookie team a Field Perimeter and we were able to track down all the scoring elements for the Game.  With the help of another local team, we are going to split the cost and shipping, giving us a both a great savings!  With the help of the Kappeler men, we also got a jump on building the other Field Elements and will be ready to go with a practice field when the team starts developing its chassis.  Thanks to everyone who pitched in, getting us off to a great start!


Our robot has been ‘out making friends and influencing people’ so to speak!  Brick Buddies has talked about STEM across the Tampa Bay over the pass month since finishing up with summer camps!  The students showcased First LEGO League to young people and their families at the LEGO My Library event and then we were invited by the  IEEE engineers’ group to make a presentation how Brick Buddies is growing from a simple FLL team into a larger community STEM organization and how we are supporting others.  The students were able to introduce new mentors and coaches to FIRST and get advice for themselves about moving into the competitive level of First Tech Challenge (FTC).  It was a great way to promote the broad range of STEM opportunities to the IEEE and their guests.