Winter Camp Eureka!

Competition Day

January 2nd, 2015 was the last day of Camp Eureka, and the day of the competition.

Today we had our students do a final reflection in their journals about what they enjoyed, what they didn’t enjoy, and any feedback. We will be reviewing these reflections to improve our camp to fit what the students want.

Because there was a lot of work to get done, once we finished with reflections, we got straight to work. Because most teams wanted to add a claw and lift mechanism to their robots, lots of modifications were made, some teams even taking the risk and completely remodeling their bots. unfortunately, this started to run into our competition time. However, seeing how much effort the students were putting into their robots, we couldn’t force them to complete unsatisfied with their work. Although we had to delay significantly, we were able to start the competition with the parents just as excited as their children.

After a number of fun, exciting rounds, one alliance stood above the rest with their outstanding strategy with one robot focused on offense and one focused on defending. The tournament champions were the alliance of “2 Awesome” lead by Cami Wong and Kaitaro Tamashiro with “Project Y” lead by Jason Kurizaki, Nic Barrick, and James “Kimo” Cordova. We then proceeded with the award ceremony where the winning alliances got their prizes and each camp student received their certificate. We finished with our potluck, where everyone got to eat food, relax, and socialize before leaving.

Although it was a day short, this year’s Camp Eureka was just as fun and educational as ever. We thank all the students, parents, mentors, and supporters of this camp. Camp Eureka sustains our club in many ways, it is our main source of funds, as well as a way to recruit new members, and develop leadership within our club. We look forward to our next camp in the spring.


Day 3

December 31st was the third day of our 2014 Winter Camp Eureka!

Today we had the students work on their journals, where they learned about the six simple machines, and why they are so important in engineering.

Once they were done with their journals, they got straight to work on their robots. After each team felt that their robots were complete, we began the Drag Race Competition. The drag race competition was done in a tournament style, with each team competing with one other team to get to the next level of a bracket. Many fast robots were unable to control their turn at the end of the course, and were defeated by another robot with a more stable drive train. The winners of the Drag Race challenge was team ‘Project Y’, which consisted of Jason Kurizaki, Nic Barrick, and James “Kimo” Cordova. They won thanks to their balanced use of gear ratios and a stable compact base.

Next we moved on to the final challenge. The 2014 Winter Camp Eureka VEX IQ game, “Flagger Getter” also simply referred to as “Capture The Flag”, is played on a 4′ x 8′ field. Alliances of two teams score points by collecting one of four flags of their color, or the single special flag for additional points. The teams then place these flags in their end zones or on their elevated platforms for extra points.

The challenge in this final game is to see what the kids have learned over the week, and what new strategies they can come up with. Teams must decide if they want to keep their fast drive base, or reduce it to a slower and more controlled drive base. Teams must also decide if they want to add a claw and lift mechanism to score on platforms, or keep their regular drive train to quickly take the opponent’s flags away.

Next class, after making their final changes, teams will compete in the final game in front of their family and friends. Everyone is excited and eager to show what they can do at the competition!

Day 2

December 30th was the second day of our 2014 Winter Camp Eureka!

To start off, we did another icebreaker. Today we had everyone play charades. We taped a paper with a Disney story character’s name on their backs. They then needed to ask one another questions to find out who they are. Each character also had a partner from the same story they must find(Batman must find Robin). Everyone had lots of fun asking each other questions and puzzling over who they could possibly be. These  ice breakers are a recent addition to our camps and have shown a positive impact on the relationship among the students and mentors.

Today was the day of the Maze Competition. The students were given  some time to make finishing touches to their program, and run through some final practice rounds. Once everyone was ready, we began the competition rounds. The teams were timed on how quick they could finish, and each time they crossed over a line five seconds were added to their time. In the end the teams with the most compact and controlled robots did the best in this challenge.

The main lesson of the next challenge is gear ratios. That said, we showed the students various gear ratio diagrams and had them guess if the result would be high speed, or high torque. We then showed them the same gears in a real example using VEX IQ parts. The students learned how to create high speed, high torque, and also what an idler gear does.

Then we introduced the Drag Race challenge. It is a race where the robot must travel across a long path, turn around, and travel back. Although it sounds simple at first, teams are often distracted by the need for speed, and become unable to control the angle their robot travels after turning. For this challenge, each team is allowed two more gears allowing for much more creativity in their designs.

Next class, after redesigning their robots to fit this challenge, the teams will compete in the Drag Race competition. Then they will be introduced to the final competition that will test their overall learning at our camp.

Day 1

December 29th was the first day of our 2014 Winter Camp Eureka! We welcomed 19 young students to our classroom to learn the basics of robotics through the VEX IQ platform.

To start off the day, we went over a few house rules, and proceeded with an icebreaker to have the students get to know each other, as well as the mentors. Each mentor and student was to go stand up and introduce themselves by saying their name, school, grade, age, and an interesting fact about themselves. We learned that we had many interesting students this year.

After introductions, we went ahead and introduced them to their first challenge; the maze. The maze is a simple course on the ground outlined by tape. Teams will be competing to see who can run through the maze the fastest. However, they will get points deducted for every time they cross the tape. The students are challenged to choose if they want their robot to be fast so they can finish quick, or slow, so they can control their robot and avoid the tape.

The students then split up into teams of two or three with a designated mentor. The teams were then given two motors, a robot brain, controller, and access to whatever other parts they needed. Because there are only two motors provided and four wheels to power, the teams had to use gears to make the wheels turn together from one motor.

Next class, the students will be competing in the maze challenge to see who built the best robot for the task. Then we will introduce them to another challenge.

Click on any image to access all the photos for that day.