This 2023-2024 FIRST ® season, follow along as we hear from four FIRST® LEGO® League, four FIRST® Tech Challenge, and four FIRST® Robotics Competition Diary of an Innovator teams about their season experience and the culture of innovation their team has created.     

This post is by Team Code Warriors from Oakville, Ontario, Canada. 

Q: How has your team’s season been going so far?  

A: Our team’s season has been incredibly rewarding and enjoyable. We’ve fostered a strong sense of friendship, celebrating small victories like completing missions and significant achievements such as winning the 2nd Champion’s Award at the Regionals.  

Individually, team members have reflected on personal growth and enhanced comfort within the team dynamic. We’ve grown closer as a team, celebrated victories, and enjoyed successes in robot performance, judging, and securing a spot in the Provincials. 

Q: Tell us about your team’s MASTERPIECESM Innovation Project. 

A: Our team’s Innovation Project, known as Page Palette, aims to revolutionize the reading experience by making it more engaging and immersive. The project focuses on incorporating sounds and music into the reading process, enhancing overall enjoyment. 

Page Palette caters to a wide audience, including both paper and digital book readers, and it has the added benefit of empowering braille readers by making their reading experience even more immersive. The platform, accessible through a responsive website, features a diverse library of books with added auditory elements corresponding to each page. We want to make reading as fun as games and social media! 

Q: How did your team pick a topic for their Innovation Project?  

A: Initially, the team voted on their favourite hobbies with gaming and stop motion emerging as top choices. Choosing a topic based on voting was a great way to include everyone. However, after discovering that issues in these areas were already addressed by major companies, the team shifted its focus to reading, another shared interest.  

Research revealed a 7% decline in reading rates, and a survey indicated a 64% agreement with the problem, solidifying reading as the chosen project. The transition to focusing on reading, supported by research revealing a decline in reading rates and a survey emphasizing the prevalence of the problem, was a pivotal moment. This evidence-based approach solidified the team’s decision and helped everyone understand the significance and relevance of the chosen project. It’s remarkable that the team managed to align its passion with an issue that held such societal importance. 

Q: How has your team worked together this season? 

A: Our team has a strong collaborative approach to problem-solving. For instance, when faced with challenges such as creating a complex attachment or improving accuracy in a robot run, team members collectively brainstormed and worked together to find effective solutions. Additionally, when a new team member struggled with attachment creation for multiple missions, the experienced team members provided guidance, suggesting a combination approach that led to success. In another instance, during the troubleshooting of an issue with the Innovation project, the team collaborated to implement a reading test, ultimately enhancing the functionality. This collaborative spirit ensures that each team member’s strengths contribute to overcoming challenges and achieving success in various aspects of the competition. 

Q: How has your team iterated on their Robot Design/Project?  

A: Embracing a continuous improvement mindset, we transformed our robot design based on lessons from the previous year. Despite winning the Robot Design award last year, we recognized the potential for improvement. Adjustments like a more versatile attachment and motor placement significantly improved mission efficiency. 

Q: What tips do you have for new teams that are getting ready for an event?  

A: Stay calm, have fun, and do your best. Thorough preparation, confidence, and tools like Q-cards for judging sessions are key. Don’t let stress or panic overshadow the enjoyment of the experience. Enjoy the learning process. 

Q: What’s the most surprising lesson your team has learned this season?  

A: The most surprising lesson our team learned is the significance of perseverance, crucial in overcoming challenges, and the collective effort’s satisfaction is as valuable as winning. Staying calm, dedicated, and patient in the process leads to remarkable results. 

Q: Has your team participated in an event? 

A: Our team participated in the FIRST® LEGO® League kickoff in Ontario, presenting and teaching advanced robotics concepts like Proportional Gyro Straight and PID Line Following. New members attended workshops to learn, while experienced members taught advanced code blocks to other teams. We are committed to not only our own team’s growth but also to helping other teams learn and excel. 

Subsequently, in the regionals, our team achieved the 2nd place Champion’s Award, earning qualification for the provincials.  

Q: How did your team get their robot competition-ready?  

A: We started working on our robot in September. We met regularly every week for 2 hours to work on the robot, covering aspects such as defining mission strategy, developing advanced movement algorithms such as PID Gyro Straight, Line Following and Gyro Turn and developing our robot’s driving base. In the month of October, in addition to meeting on weekends for 2 hours, we spent time after school to develop and test mission attachments. In the crucial two weeks leading up to our regionals, our team committed to daily meetings, focusing on perfecting our robot’s performance. We diligently tested, changed, and calibrated our code, recording valuable data to identify areas for improvement and comprehensive preparation that contributed to competition readiness. 

Q: How did you prepare for judging?  

A: Our team prepared for judging through rehearsals. Skits, Q&A prep, and mock sessions – we did it all, practicing regularly as a team and individually at home. We ran mock judging sessions during team meetings, with coaches acting as judges, ensuring effective time management and refining our presentation skills. 

Q: How was your event experience?  

A: Our team’s experience in the MASTERPIECE season so far has been incredibly enriching and rewarding. Starting with kickoff, it’s fantastic that our team had the opportunity to present and share insights. This year we engaged with multiple teams from Israel, Japan, Siberia, Prague (Czechia) and Canada which provided a platform for cultural exchange and collaboration, showcasing our team’s expertise, and willingness to support others and culminating a culture of collaboration at a global level. 

Some of our team members started Coding Clubs at our schools that stemmed from our team’s experiences and knowledge gained from participating in these events. We feel that it’s a great way to expand the reach of robotics and coding education within our community. 

The regionals seemed like an eventful and successful day for your team. Navigating the judging sessions effectively and performing well in the robot games led to the ultimate reward of winning the 2nd place Champion’s Award – a day to remember! This achievement has been a culmination of your team’s hard work, dedication, and collaboration. 

Q: What was your favorite part of the event? 

A: The team had an eventful and enjoyable day! The camaraderie in the pit, participating in FIRST LEGO League-themed Kahoots, and engaging with the FIRST® Robotics Competition team robot showcases created a vibrant and exciting atmosphere. However, the best moment was the announcement of the awards. The tension built up, but the exhilaration peaked when our team was awarded the 2nd place Champion’s Award, an unforgettable and priceless moment! 

Q: What was most challenging?  

A: Our team encountered a series of diverse challenges, from the dynamics of the judging session to unexpected variations in the competition tables that affected your robot’s performance. Each challenge demanded distinct skills and adaptability. 

The judging session appears to have tested your team’s ability to communicate effectively and showcase a comprehensive understanding of your project and robot design. Each of us had challenges: answering unexpected questions, grasping new concepts, initial perceptions of the judging session, and the stress it presented. Our collective effort in providing additional details highlighted your teamwork and positively influenced your overall score. 

The differences in the competition tables versus the tables that we practiced at home affected your robot’s performance. This was a technical challenge that required quick thinking and problem-solving skills. Being able to swiftly adjust your code under pressure reflects your team’s adaptability and resilience. In retrospect, these challenges brought our team closer together and provided useful learnings to alter our approach for future competitions, allowing us to anticipate and handle similar challenges more effectively. 

Q: Are you attending any other events?   

A: Absolutely! Provincials, here we come on January 20th! Get ready for us! 🚀 

Stay tuned for our next post from The Code Warriors later this year and stay tuned for the other teams’ posts coming soon.  

Catch up on the previous FIRST LEGO League Diary of an Innovator teams’ posts here.

Learn about the FIRST Tech Challenge Diary of an Innovator teamshere, and the FIRST Robotics Competition Diary of an Innovator teams here