How one team ‘made the move’ from Jr. FLL to FLL

The Robo Mustangs run their Sumo bots at last season's Jr. FLL Expo at the Discovery Museum, Sacramento.

By- Heidi Buck

At the end of last season, at the Sacramento Discovery Museum’s Jr. FLL Expo, I had the pleasure of meeting the Robo Mustangs – a local Jr. FLL team. It was the end of their third year involved in Jr. FLL, and coach Roger Evans told me that they were seriously contemplating “making the move” to FLL.

Jr. FLL team Robo Mustangs and their coach Roger Evans - pose with their medals and trophy at the Discovery Museum's Jr. FLL Expo (Feb. 26, 2011)

Well, they did! Last week, this new FLL team graciously invited us to meet with them and be filmed for a short Project Avenue segment (see below). The team is definitely excited about being a FLL team and are hard at work on the Food Factor challenge.
I asked coach Roger how he and his team initially got started with FIRST, and how they feel about being a new FLL team:

In 2006, my nephew invited us to come watch the FRC robot competition at the University of California- Davis.  I took my preschool age son to see what all the fuss was about.  The moment we saw that LEGO NXT robot maneuver across the table on a strategic mission, I knew.  The future was clear for that engineer hiding inside me and that huge investment in LEGO; they were going to converge in a fun and interesting ways for years to come!  I knew I had to coach a team.

So, as soon as my son started first grade, my wife and I got permission to use the school library, passed out flyers, held a parent information meeting, and by the end of the week we had twelve kids signed up for Jr. FLL.  The LEGO mechanism sets with A-B building instructions made our team a success.  Each year we have added to our LEGO collection.

For third grade we bought two NXT sets and built sumo-bots to learn a little programming. I refereed a few FLL Qualifier matches and met some wonderful people.

The Robo Mustangs are ready for FIRST LEGO League!

The boys are in fourth grade now, and this is our first year of FLL.  We are ready.  I am as nervous and excited as ever.  We have graduated from the school library to the shop at home where we can leave the table and projects setup from week to week.  The team has gelled and we are on the journey.  The clock is ticking and we have a lot of work to do! 

Go Robo Mustangs!