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2 teams from Lebanon have left Beirut last Monday to visit Paderborne, Germany to participate in an International Robotics Competition for students of age 9 to 16. Lebanon with 1 team from Cedars Cultural School in Kabrshmoun called “Fast and Curious” and another Team from Martyr Hasan Kaseer High School in Beirut called “Tic Tac Toe”, have gained Lebanon 3 titles out of 17 in the International Robotics Competition, OEC this last Friday.

After Dawn of Innovation, the team from Tripoli of Al Iman School represented Lebanon in another International Competition that took place in the St. Louis, USA and came back with 2 great prizes for Lebanon those teams proceeded in stabilizing Lebanon’s position among great countries in Science, Engineering and Technology.

Fast and Curious and Tic Tac Toe competed with 54 teams from 32 countries, including China, USA, Great Britain, Netherlands, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, France, Germany… Countries considered vastly knowledgeable in the field of robotics, but Lebanon through Fast and Curious was able to compete till the last minute with more than 10 official scoring rounds to gain the third position after facing USA and China in the Finals. The 2 teams gained 2 other awards in that competition, rounding up to 3 awards:

  1. Missions third rank: Fast and Curious own robot design and programming was able to compete with other team’s designs, and pushed them toward the third rank.
  2. Inspiration Award: Tic Tac Toe was able to prove that the teamwork their group possessed was of the greatest knowledge they have gained through their experience
  3. Mechanical Design: Fast and Curious robot design was able to attract the attention of Mechanical Engineering Professors found in the Judging Committee of the OEC, and decided to hand them the Mechanical Design Award

During the Last call we had with the Lebanese Teams, they have showed great thankfulness with what the people in Lebanon have showed in interest in what they have done, “by calling us several times during our rounds, checking the social media posts, posts and watching us live” said Mr. Ghazi Mtaweh, Cedars Cultural School Manager. Charbel Najjar and Mhamad Beiruti, the coaches of both teams have repeatedly confessed how “we are really excited on the amount of great feedback we received from other team coaches, judges, students, and media in Germany, on how a small country like ours was able to stand among beasts of technology like Japan, China, Germany and Great Britain. We were able to compete against the creators of Land Rover, Mercedes and Lexus, we’ve done it once again”

The great achievement that the Lebanese teams have managed to gain was celebrated in Germany by Media, Universities and Fellow teams from around the world.

You can check the video of their arrival to the Airport in Beirut here

The Third National Robotics Contest took place last week at the Lebanese American University in Beirut and has succeeded in attracting the attention of more than 400 attendees.

The event included 34 participating teams, of which only 32 appeared on the day after the draw of 2 teams due to the latest political turmoil the country has passed.

32 teams of 28 different schools have participated in this competition, with the day starting at 8AM with the teams’ arriving at the LAU Beirut Campus. The launching of the competition proceeded at 9:30AM with the Lebanese National Anthem, to be followed later on with the Entrance of the 32 attending teams to the stage. The FLL Lebanon revived its earlier competitions with a short movie of the National Competitions in 2010 and 2011 with a short overview of the winning teams in the last 2 years.

Dr. Nasser Abo Ltaif, the Representative of the Minister of Social Affairs, Mr. Wael Abo Faour, mentioned the importance of such occasions in reviving the youth spirit for achievement and advancement for the country’s sake and the future generation. Mr. Ghazi Mtaweh, the Operational Partner of FIRST LEGO League Lebanon, stressed on the great importance such a scientific event can bring to student’s creativity that can later on direct them to development of real life solutions. Dr. Barbar Akle, Assistant Dean at LAU Byblos, who is a great contributor to the event, demonstrated properly how LAU stands by the students in hosting FLL Lebanon and the Open Arab Robotics Championship last year, and further more announced the donation of 2 scholarships by LAU Beirut to the 2 elder members of the winning team, to be awarded by the end of the day.

At 10:30 the competition started, with the 32 teams moving simultaneously on 4 main judging committees:

  1. Missions
  2. Project
  3. Core Values
  4. Technical Design

The Catering Sponsor for FLL Lebanon “TIVOLI Catering” presented lunch at 1:30PM to the participating students, judges, and volunteers.

The final rounds of the Missions started at 5:00PM and ended at 6:00PM. Later to that, the Jury meeting was held to decide on the winners.

18 Awards were distributed that day as follows:

  1. Champion: Dawn of Innovation 3- Al Iman Islamiya School Tripoli
  2. Champion Runner-up: Fast & Curious – Cedars Cultural School
  3. Missions Champion: Dawn Of Innovation 3
  4. Missions Runner-up: Roboticians – TechnoFuture
  5. Core Values Champion: Titan Tech – Al Marj School
  6. Project Champion: Leaders 313 – Al Mahdi School Baalbeck
  7. Technical Design Champion: Tic Tac Toe – Martyr Hasan Kaseer High School Beirut
  8. Programing award: J Droids – Al Imam Al Jawad School
  9. Mechanical Design Award: NAS Columbians – National American School Zahle
  10. Strategy and Innovation award: Roboss – Beissour Official Secondary School
  11. Inspiration award: Seniors Lab – Al Makassed Beirut
  12. Research award: Robovolution – International College Beirut (IC)
  13. Gracious Professionalism award: Hadi Robotics Team – Al Hadi Association
  14. Presentation award: Robo Pheonix – Al Makassed Beirut
  15. Innovative Solution award: Ynuts – Rawdat Al Fayhaa
  16. Teamwork Award: Irfan – Al Irfan School Simkaniyi
  17. Judges Award: DSBots – Deutsche School Dawha
  18. Friendship Award: Pulse 3 – Cedars Cultural School

The teams holding the first top ranks among the teams, qualified to participate on the regional competition to be held in Egypt on March 29-31, 2013, which to involve 70 teams from 9 different Arab Countries. As well, the Champion gained a seat to represent their country in the International Championship to take place in Germany on April 18, 2013.

Here is what you have to do to participate in the team logo contest.

Open your facebook account and search for FLL Lebanon

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Enter the Page and look for the Team LOGO Contest, with the logo below and click on it.

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Once you are there, if you haven’t already liked the FLL Lebanon page you will have to press on like

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Click on Like above and the “ Like us on Facebook” will be gone so that you can add your own logo to the contest or vote for others.

To add a photo click on Add a Photo

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Once clicked a new option will appear. What you have to do is allow it to be added to your profile

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Click on Go to App appearing in blue and you will be directed to the following page

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You can click on Allow or Skip as both have the same effect for adding a photo of your logo on our page.

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In the earlier image, Add a photo appeared in green whereas here after it appears blue. Clicking on it starts a new window within the page. All you have to do is add your image, adding a description of your team name and then start uploading it to the facebook pageStart asking your friends, your family and colleagues to join and vote for your photo which will appear on the same page for a chance for you to win the team shirts.

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Start asking your friends, your family and colleagues to join and vote for your photo which will appear on the same page for a chance for you to win the team shirts.

Enjoy and Good Luck :)

We have wrote before on the general rules of the competition, but we still have some details on the missions that we would like to mention, to guarantee that you will work efficiently and properly.

Q1: For the transitions, can a team add a part below the bridge to stop it from tilting?

A1: No.  That would violate the requirement from the scoring condition

Q2: Can a robot add a part that to the ball game, that will stop the other teams from pushing their ball to the center position?

A2: No, as it would affect the functionality of the mission

Q3: For the bowling, is the robot allowed to shoot the ball from a different spot other than the marked starting area.

A3: Yes. There is nothing that shows the starting position of this mission.

Q4: Can the robot change the positions of the orange medicine bottles, while keeping them on the marked line and still get scored for it.

A4: Yes, but the team has to make sure they return those to the exact position they were put at and not any position within the marked black box.

Q5: To What direction will the similarity recognition be pointing at

A5: At the start of each round the similarity recognition on each table will be pointing to the east.

Q6: What if the flowers fall of the garden, will we lose the points?

A6: No, as long as they fall while the robot is moving and you have not removed them in the base.

Q7: If the balls from the ball game fall within an area that can distract the robot’s move, will I get to repeat that mission.

A7: The judge, if asked, will remove the balls and thus they would not distract the robot’s movement or sensors during each run, if you need the balls that will fall of during the run on your table as part of your strategy, they can remain where they are if you want that.

Those are all of the questions we had for now, check this post repeatedly to stay updated on the missions status. Please make sure to read the documents as all of those rules are mentioned, watching the video is not enough. If there are any questions that you would like to ask, please write a comment or send them here: support@fll-lebanon.org

GOOD LUCK :)

We are now preparing for the FLL season and we repeatedly get same inquiries. We wanted to make sure that all teams have the same info and prepare equally without surprises popping out on the day of the competition out of nowhere!

The team members in Lebanon must be 8 and the coach is considered the 9th member. As for the mentors, teams can add up to 3 mentors, but we suggest to keep one only instead.

For the Missions part, the teams can only use 1 robot on the table per round. However, the robot’s design can be changed during the FLL day between rounds.

There is no specific order for the missions. The team can do whatever they find needed by the start of the 2 minutes and 30 seconds and end their round the way they find convenient. The judge will fill the scoring sheet by the end of the timing of each round, depending on the final state of the missions table, and during the time will only have to manage the team’s penalties.

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For the project, the team has to prepare a research on a solution for one of the problems found in the general theme of the competition. Some of the problems that seniors might face are walking, using technology, medical problems, amnesia… The students have to research on the specific topic they chose and come up with an innovative solution to it (eg: a pill that can help prevent diabetes at growth). The solution is not necessarily to be in robotics. 

The team have to present their research findings in 5 minutes. Note that the more the presentation is creative the higher the team will score on the presentation part. The team can make a song, use powerpoint, make a documentary… Nothing is forbidden in the presentation as long as you show your findings and suggest your solution in a good way. Here is an example of a nice and interactive project presentation. 

For the programming and design, the team might be asked to show the judges a mission that they have prepared and the judges might want to have a look at your programming. Make sure that you get your team’s laptop and in case you don’t have one, make sure that you get it on a Flash memory, CD or an external hard disk. The coach and mentors are not allowed to enter with the team to this judging committee.

In the core values, the team do not know about the exercise they are about to do until they enter and they are asked to do it. It might be a talk or making a tower out of LEGO or even asking the team to draw something on the wall together in 5 minutes. Note as well that only the team members are allowed to go into this room and coach/mentor(s) are allowed in, if the judging committee asks for him/her to enter the room. 

In all the parts except the Missions, your scoring will remain confidential till the end of the match. As for the missions, your score is usually delayed between 5 to 10 minutes after each round you have, for it to be displayed live. 

Below is an example of how your score will appear after each missions round you have. 

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That’s all we have been asked about for now. Stay posted by checking the blog, as this is where we will be posting and resolving the questions we get. If you have a question yourself, please send them here: support@fll-lebanon.org 

LEGO have released the all new EV3 Mindstorms Kit after 2 generations of the set earlier, the RCX and the NXT. Trying to solve some of the old issues with the Mindstorms kit and trying to improve its functioning, will the new LEGO EV3 be able to work out some of those problems, and will the new features of the EV3 be handy in education?

First, the RCX came out, although the LEGO parts were easy to handle, the programming language was a bit difficult especially with 9 year old kids trying to make something fun out of the kit. The worst part was in the accuracy of the robot once built; we remember trying to build the robot in FLL 2006 Season and whenever the robot had 3 things to do, it would try something new on its own at each try. It was never capable of doing anything twice one after the other, because of the battery power and the external rotation sensor that always had mistakes in counting its own movement.

LEGO realized the problem, and they came out with a new set in 2009, which they called the NXT Mindstorms 2.0. With new building parts that dropped the old stud bricks and only granted it modest access to the Mindstorms set compared to its predecessor,  and introduced the new technic pins for better assembly and stability. LEGO added an extra port to for the sensors, while kept the motor ports of the same number as that for the RCX. The new programming interface was more easy to use, with what programmers like to call “drag and drop”. Although the software looked simple and a bit childish for kids age 15 trying to work on the Mindstorms kit, it was capable of setting any order that the NXT was able to comprehend into a bloc, that all you had to do was drag it from the function’s palette and dropping it at the assembly line of your working area.

The NXT is capable of doing so many great stuff, but it wasn’t compatible with what every person using Mindstorms wanted to have. The NXT was being programmed using NXT-G and ROBOTC, but others wanted it to be RC controlled. Others thought of having an app for it, and was only developed for android systems and not specifically by LEGO people (You can find a list of those apps here). Many problems later on started to rise while using the Mindstorms NXT, and some of those that we have seen most are the wheels problem, others were in the motor ratios, as 3 motors weren’t providing the same power at the same time and especially in FLL practices as many teams still face this issue even with a new out of the box Mindstorms kit. Others complained of the memory and other found it really irritating that they couldn’t build more designs because of the limited quantity of parts, and that’s when we always referred to the 9695 Resource Set for extra parts and new set of wheels.

The new Mindstorms EV3 is out now only in LEGO retail, while the LEGO Education has halted its launching of the EV3 set till mid-2013. For some educators, using EV3 have started in their classrooms, to go on with the STEM concept that they launched with the 2 earlier versions of the Mindstorms (RCX and NXT); so far everybody seems happy with the new remodeling of the product.

EV3 stands for evolution. This evolution has hit the 2 main elements of the kit use, which is the design and programming. The software has been given a new appearance and new tools, but not new orders as the old software is capable of doing everything you need. Users can add images and draw on the new software, which is pretty handy when trying to imagine the track of the robot’s movement. The new workbook tool makes the software more classroom user friendly, teachers and students can share their work through workbooks by adding videos, images and links to their workbooks, which facilitates the assessment by their teachers as the students set their work to one place without the need to refer to other documents for checking their assignments; this tool is there to fix the profile issue in the older software. As for the online connection, it seems that LEGO is looking to benefit from the students’ interests, opinions and creativity in using the software for later development; for that, updates, sharing and support can be done in one click on the new software. We have to admit that the appearance looks much nicer, more modern and compatible with the shape of the EV3 brick. What remains vague at this time, is whether the students will be able to incorporate the use of a wide range of sensors compatible with NXT earlier and now the EV3, but not compatible with the earlier version of the software, on the new one, as easily as using a sensor that comes with the kit, such as the angle sensor or the deviation sensor not manufactured by LEGO.

The new shape of the EV3 is definitely better. A bigger screen (178×128) for you to look at easily without the need to goggle, but remains monochrome, which is a draw back. The new design has also integrated new spaces for the user to fix the brick to their robot in a better and a more stable way. EV3 dazzled us with changes, which definitely shows the evolution LEGO have been talking about; a new processor RAM, which LEGO has multiplied by a thousand, to reach 64MB instead of 64KB, 4 motor ports for you to use 1 extra motor instead of 3 motor ports in the NXT, an SD card slot for you to add up the memory to 32GB if needed instead of the 128KB that the NXT had, as for the USB communication speed, EV3 packs a 480Mbit/s port compared to the 12Mbit the NXT had. As a plus, LEGO has made sure that all NXT servo motors and sensors are compatible with the all new EV3, don’t throw those away, you can add them to your new collection if you decide on getting one. Talk about evolution, you have to talk about multiplying your numbers by thousands and hundreds for LEGO, but not for the price tag, they are here to educate and they want learning to be for all, so they only added couple of bucks to the price, which is nothing compared to the effort they have been putting to get something out on the market as EV3.

For the design of the EV3, LEGO has hit the market with new design capabilities, we did not like the aggressiveness of the new designs that has been promoted, with the shooting going on and on with different models, but we were definitely amazed by the snake model and its movement; all we  thought of the humanoid trying to moon walk when we saw the snake moving around. New sensors available such as the Gyro sensor instead of the sound sensor while the color sensor is promised to be in the kit instead of the light sensor. However, the 2 touch sensors are still produced, which is not preferable for the FLL teams especially as they rather use 2 light sensors or 2 color sensors instead.

All in all, it seems that the Mindstorms EV3 looks great and works great as well and promises to live up to its name. We will be keeping this post updated on the coming releases by LEGO on the EV3 changes and we will sure post our opinion once we get our hands on one, meanwhile stay posted and send us your feedback.

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FLL Lebanon had an interview on January 14 at LBC the “Helwe L Hayat” show. The competition concept was explained by Farah Mtaweh, Project Manager at FLL Lebanon. It was great to know that a number of the FLL fans watched it and left there feedbacks on our facebook page and what we liked more was the interviewers friendliness and a huge thanks goes for the people behind screen, especially Mr. Elie and Joana Ramadan for their interest in the FLL mission in Lebanon.

Thanks to all who watched the show yesterday. Hope you enjoyed the interview as much as we did :) 

You can check the interview on our youtube channel through the FLL Lebanon facebook page. 

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