For more than a year, Tomer Ran-Ressler has been involved on a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics team — something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by his younger sister, Noa.
When Noa started asking Tomer when she could be involved on an FTC team, he got an idea.
Why not start a robotics team that his sister could join?
“My sister approached me asking when she could join FTC and she wasn’t the age yet and wouldn’t be for a few years. That was part of the reason why I thought an FLL (FIRST Lego League) team would be great,” said Tomer, an Eden Prairie High School sophomore.
Tomer is a member of the independent Eden Prairie FTC Team 6389 “The Lazybotts,” which also includes EPHS sophomores Rachel Davis, Nikunj Chawla, Sydney Kepler and Anna Youngs; EPHS freshman Kyle George; Tyler George a Central Middle School seventh-grader and CMS eighth-grader Abhi Nallamalli.
The Lazybotts have helped start and are mentoring the FLL team “The Lazybitts.” The team is composed of Forest Hills Elementary students Alexis George, a fifth-grader, and sixth-graders Noa Ran-Ressler, Jonathan Shepard and Rohit Patil. Parents Roy Davis and Chad George have both previously coached other FIRST robotics teams and are mentoring the Lazybotts and Lazybitts.
“FIRST is really big about exposing robotics in general to the community and to younger kids,” Rachel explained.
Alexis said she was interested in the team because she was the Lazybotts’ mascot last year and watched their competitions. “I love creativity. I think that will be my favorite part ... building and designing the robot,” she added.
Rohit said he likes programming and wanted to learn more about it. Jonathan said he believed it would be cool to make the robot know how to do things.
Chad said the team started in September and has been getting ready for a qualifying competition on Dec. 6, in New Brighton. Noa said this year’s challenge is “Trash Trek.” One part of the challenge involved a project and the other part is the robotics aspect.
“We have to do a project about how we’re trying to fix a problem with throwing stuff away,” Noa said.
Alexis said they are still trying to figure out what to do for their project.
In the robotics aspect of the challenge, the team builds a Lego robot to perform pre-programmed tasks to accomplish several types of missions. The robot gets points for everything it does and tries to finish as many missions in two minutes as possible to get the maximum number of points, Chad said.
According to Rachel, when the Lazybitts meet, they try to have at least two members of the Lazybotts present to assist the team. Kyle said they have helped the Lazybitts build their practice field and they plan to help them during the design process.
“We’re hoping when they get a little older they’ll join the Lazybotts,” Rachel said.
In addition to starting another robotics team, the Lazybotts have been preparing for this year’s FTC challenge “Res-Q.” According to FIRST, the game is played on a 12-foot-square playing field and 1-foot-high walls. In opposite corners are two metal structures known as “mountains” that are divided into two climbing zones. On the top of each mountain is a lever that can be pulled to the left or the right as an “all clear signal.” There are also beacon lights on the field walls that correspond with teams’ alliance colors and zip lines attached to the mountain with objects known as “climbers” on them.
During the game, robots can earn points by pushing a button on a beacon light to select the correct color for their team; placing climbers into bins near the beacon lights; climbing different levels on the mountain; putting debris (cubes and balls) into goals on the floor or the mountain; sliding climbers down a zip line or pulling the all-clear signal, according to FIRST’s website.
According to Nikunj, part of the team’s strategy is to focus on gathering the cubes rather than the balls for the goals. “The cubes aren’t worth more points but you can physically fit more cubes into the baskets,” Tomer added.
Rachel said the team is also designing a shifting gear box that will allow the robot to have two gears so it can either be stronger or faster when needed when climbing.
“We’re not the first do to this. We’re doing a different method,” Kyle said.
The team has been in the process of designing the robot with a CAD program and plans to have the robot built by Nov. 10 in time for qualifying competitions on Nov. 21 in Bloomington and Dec. 13 in North Branch, Rachel said.
“We’re hoping to improve and learn from our mistakes last year. Last year, there were several occasions we were having late nights before competition or building in the car on the way to the competition,” Kyle added. “We really hope and really strive not t o run into those circumstan ces again.”
Rachel said the team is planning other outreach opportunities in the community, including a “Mini Maker Faire” event at the Eden Prairie Barnes & Noble on Nov. 8, during which the team will feature its “Krazy Kubes” robot game and attendees can learn about robotics and 3D printing. The team also plans to accept donations for Toys for Tots again this year during its second annual “Bots-for-Tots” toy drive in front of Kohls at Eden Prairie Center mall on Dec. 19.