WE’RE BACK!!!! Join Us…

Well, it’s probably no surprise to our friends, fans, and family– FTC Team Brick Buddies is returning for the 2014-2015 season!  Some teams didn’t even know we took the year off, considering we still volunteered for FTC and conducted Hardware Inspection at League Meets.  It was great, that everyone said how much they missed us and wanted to see us come back. It motivated our decision to return.

COMING BACK TO FTC

COMING BACK TO FTC FOR 2014!

Our kids were never far from their roots, still doing robotics, still hosting our annual FLL competition. Although, the break enabled our team members to hone new skills: Some learned CAD (finally), some started high school and we’re able to become involved in other activities (remember we were middle schoolers!) and one of our kids took the time to get a perfect score on the Math section of the SAT.  And for Jon and I, we can’t say, it wasn’t so terrible having some free weekends with our respective families. So, in all, it’s been time well spent.  But, FIRST is a family and we missed it.  The kids missed being together.  They missed building a robot.  And, when THE KIDS say they wanna build a robot, that’s when it’s time to put back on the team shirt!

This season, we’re also accepting applications for a few new team members.  We’re a Community Robotics team.  We’re looking for high school students, ages 14 and up.  We’re looking for students who are interested in Programming (C+) or Building skills or have experience working with tools or something else you feel might be a great asset to a competitive robotics team.  We typically practice on Sundays.  If you are an FLL kid, aging out, or maybe you were on an FTC school team and you are unable to stay after school for their meetings, and a weekend team would work better, let us know.  Interested students should fill out an  FTCapplication and email it to kappelers@yahoo.com.  If you have questions, please contact us.  Can’t wait to see everyone at this season’s Kick Off!

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Having An Impact!

Florida First LEGO League is very competitive with 48 qualifiers going on across the State, as teams battle to secure a spot at Regionals. Brick Buddies has been trying to track the progress of some of our Workshop Day teams.  And we are proud to hear that many have earned Regional Bids already!  We’re so proud of them and we’d like to say congratulations and give them a shout out for all their hard work so far this season.  Team Ibots from Brandon is burning up the Table this season and grabbed a spot.

Winthrop Mindstorms

Winthrop Mindstorms

Rookie Team, Winthrop Mindstorms, from Valrico earned a Regional spot at the their debut tournament.  Pasco County’s Patriot Robots will be their county’s first team to reach the Regional level. We also heard that local team Cyborgs earned a bid as well as another Rookie Team from Fort Myers, Panther Tech! Way to go teams.  If your team qualified, we’d love to hear from you.

FIRST of many…

It was quite a weekend of firsts for our FIRST Robotics team this weekend.  We attended our ‘first’ Out of League meet, going to Orlando. IMGP5329  It was great fun and it made us long for the days of the old Qualifying Tournament system when you got to sign up for different tournaments and meet new teams and see a diverse range or robots.  Saturday was the first time our newest member, Sumukh Shivakumar, tackled the high pressure of being on the Drive Team.  We also made him responsible for aligning the robot during autonomous.  Why take on one role, when you can have two is our team motto!  DSC00451On the field, Saturday, was the first time we successfully participated in an end game lift (with Motor Monkeys), the only one of the day!  In another, not as positive ‘first’… Saturday marked the first time our robot got flipped over.  We’re still smarting from that Match.  Our poor little bot looked so helpless.  The only saving grace was we flipped by the rack and prevented additional scoring from that side  I guess you call that inadvertent defense! We know we’ve got a busy holiday break ahead of us with some repair work looming.

Time For SUPER JR. 2013

Brick Buddies has been busy this week.  After catching our breath from a great Workshop Day for our area FLL teams, we’ve switched gears to our younger FIRST fans in Jr. First LEGO League.  We’ve started hosting a very unique Jr. FLL Expo and this season, we’ve gone big time and are working with LEGOLAND, Florida.  We’ve now opened registration for Super Jr. 2013 which will be held on Sunday, February 10th.  Details can be found under the Super Jr 2013. tab.  If you are a Jr. FLL Team in Florida, we hope to see you in February!  

OH MY, OCTOBER!

It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out how four kids are dividing up all the programming and building responsibilities of two different robotics competitions.  There is no sitting on the sidelines on our team. No mentors doing the work; no dads building the robot; no heading out to somebody’s shop.   It’s literally all hands on deck by Brick Buddies team members at practice these days.  In order to meet the demands and deadlines of both MoonBots and Ring It Up, the kids split up tasks every Sunday.  Two members tackle MoonBots, from building all the Game Elements and LEGO Models, to building and programming the NXT Mindstorm. Then, in a coordination similar to a army tactical order, the 6×6 Game is packed and shipped off to a team member’s home for the week, so work can continue!  Right now, two members at a time, hold down the FTC duties, (and you thought we were small when we had three!)   Team members had to divide and conquer to first get the field cut and put together.  While everyone discussed game strategy and robot design, two members are working to order parts and get a chassis built.  While other teams will have some clear advantages over us, time, manpower, access– the kids have become extremely bonded working so closely together.  And, also in the middle of this craziness, Brick Buddies is host to the largest Workshop Training Day in Florida on October 27th.  Teams will becoming from across the State for team workshops and coaches training.  It’s tough right in the middle of the Build Season, but we enjoy giving back and seeing all the teams.

BACK TO SPACE, sort of…

We had a quite a whirlwind weekend of robotics this past week.  With so much excitement, it’s easy to lose sight of such silly things like school and work!  Saturday was the big FTC season Kick-Off in Orlando and everyone was so eager to get started, that we met again on Sunday to start strategizing and get the Field Build going. Tossing rings and lifting robots.  We were all a little dizzy!  But before all that, we took our ‘work-in-progress’ MoonBots Game and went to check-in over at Earthrise Space, Inc. with our favorite Google Lunar X Prize Team, Omega Envoy.  It was great to catch up and get an update on their progress.  And, we thought we were busy!  Ruben and Joe are pretty busy. A lot has changed over there since we visited in June.  They are expanding their Lab and work spaces. We got a full tour!  We saw the Tilt Table they made for testing the rover — pretty awesome.   We also got to see what the “clean room” was like.  We got to meet Max, who is new to the Team.  Who doesn’t want to work on getting back to the moon?  We talked about MoonBots Phase II, the upcoming deadlines, and they gave us some great feedback on our Lunar Landscape.  We showed some of our preliminary Game Missions, including our top secret Mission for Marvin.  As always, can’t wait to go back!

WITH MUCH GRATITUDE…

Even though it’s still summer, we’re already full steam ahead into the 2012-2013 FTC season.  We are very fortunate to have a variety of companies supporting our efforts this year.  RAYTHEON is returning as our main sponsor.    We are very grateful they continue to provide both financial and mentor support.  We want to thank BrickBuildr who is helping the team by providing our tournament give-aways this season. Pretty cool– so stop by our Pit!    We have a new partner in Earthrise Space, Inc. and Google Lunar X Prize Team, Omega Envoy.  They have offered us the use of their facility and technical assistance this season fabricating parts.  And finally, Team Brick Buddies has been lucky enough to team up with THINK GEEK to receive refurbished robotics kits for Outreach projects.  Awesome!   We have had such a great response from the community.  Thank you to all of our partners!

FINAL DESTINATION, MOONBOTS FINALISTS!

We were shocked and delighted yesterday to see Brick Buddies among the Phase One winners of the MoonBots Challenge!  We are excited to be among the finalists moving on in the competition.  The MoonBots Challenge is an international Robotics Challenge in conjunction with the Google Lunar X Prize.  This year, over 145 teams entered the competition.  We know we face some stiff competition ahead of us, not to mention the double-duty of competing in both FTC and MoonBots, simultaneously this Fall.  We’ve got quite a schedule to work out!  So, we’re going to enjoy our day of jubilation and then tomorrow, it’s back to practice.  Thanks to all our supporters, our parents, and our new partners, Earthrise Space, Inc. for helping us in this effort!

BUDDING ENGINEERS WANTED

We have opened up our application process for potential new team members for the upcoming Fall 2012-21013 Robotics Season!  We are looking for a few good guys and/or gals who have an interest in engineering, programming, or mechanical building.  Team Brick Buddies is a North Tampa/Pasco Community Robotics Program.  Our FTC (First Tech Challenge) Team is for kids who are age 13 and up.  In our rookie season, we never ranked lower than 3rd at our Qualifying Tournaments.  We were part of a Winning Alliance Team and Inspire Award Winners.  At the State Championship, the team was recognized with the THINK Award, for documenting the engineering lessons they learned as rookies and that their robot design was solid and reliable all season. We play hard and practice hard!  In the Fall, we practice once a week on Sunday afternoons in Land O Lakes.  During the competition season, we practice twice a week.  The FTC Robotics season runs from late August until late February.  If you and your family might be interested in competitive robotics, fill out a Team Application.  FTCapplication

“Build By The Bay” LEGO Event, Saturday April 7th

Brick Buddies is very excited to welcome a full slate of Jr. First LEGO League teams to its Regional Jr. FLL Expo this Saturday at the Glazer Children’s Museum.  Jr. FLL is a program for kids, ages 6-9, who are interested in exploring new topics in science and learning to work together as a  team, using a LEGO-based program.  Glazer Children’s Museum is our partner in this great event.  Come out on Saturday and learn how you can get your child involved!  There will be a lot of fun activities– LEGO Challenge Build, Workshops about FIRST, LEGO Education and Building Tips from LEGO Masters. We also have a Robotics Champions Showcase of Award Winning Teams from all of the FIRST programs.  And, plenty of Museum activities are also scheduled!  We’d like to welcome all of our teams: Jr. Buddies, Homeschool LEGO Leopards, Dino Dangers, Peace Bots, LEGO Warriors, Robo Stangs, Lomax Panthers, South Florida Robotics, Snacula, LEGO K-9s, Super-Cocoas, and Thundercats!