Taco Force the Long Re-Cap of the Qualifying Tournament!


Taco Force!

Karl, Jon, Ethan, Noe, Margery, Clyde, Napella, Nathan and Emy the night before the Corvallis Qualifying Tournament.
(We had one photo missing 3 and one photo missing Jon,
so quick  photoshop later, and they are all together. Winking smile )

Paula, Lego, Lake 046   Paula, Lego, Lake 052

Taco the Robot!

The boys picked out a three motor bottom chasis and adapted it to a forklift using the A Motor and Lego String. After a few missions they decided for space and front weight that they’d take off the front forks, turning it into an elevator. The instructions did not fit our nxt battery case, so adjustments were made to the rear as well.

Paula, Lego, Lake 053

The Project – Seizure Alert System

Taco Force presenting their project to the Grandparents and parents the night before QT. We had thought about doing a game show – but ran out of time.  A few of the team members created this really great poster board showcasing how their solution developed. There is the cutest lego minifig with gears for the heart and brain, the brain shifting the gears for the body in the center. In the middle of the brain is a gear that turns with their questions and answers in a pie. To have each member participate, it was easiest to have each one take a photo on the board and explain what it represented, under the flap of the photo is the words to their “part”. They really hammed it up practicing in front of the families. Smile 
They found out through research that there is a great need for a Seizure Alert System.

  • Indicate to others that a seizure is near.
  • Let the person know that they had a seizure,
  • Possibly be equipped with ‘On Star’ type technology that could alert Hospitals or Family,
  • Keep track of seizures throughout the day.

After researching their idea – they found that there is a patient pending on hold for such an idea. They created prototypes of watches, ear pieces, and necklaces. Doctors are implanting tiny dots in the brain that can help with seizures, a possible implant could show when the brain is starting to misfire – when blood pressure rises – when the body is in stress – and show with a light or sound that a seizure has happened. There should be technology to have the device attach to the skin, so that at least it could track how many seizures have happened during the day.  The kids saw a form with over 30 people asking for this type of technology after they had thought of the idea through talking about what they had seen in their own families.  This technology would be helpful to teachers, friends, family members and the patients themselves.

Paula, Lego, Lake 054

Nathan, Clyde, Ethan and Jonathan sitting at our Pit Table. Ethan and Napella created a flow chart to show how the Robot design and creation came to be.

The high school team brought their robots, the step above FTC, above FLL – our team spent most of their time interacting with this team – as they were stationed right next to our Pit.


Paula, Lego, Lake 056

The Practice Tables – We had one time through – 2 and a half minutes – at the practice table. A couple of the missions went off without a hitch! One thing that was lacking with our team was time. We met for 45-60 minutes once a week. For a couple of weeks, we met Thursday and Friday – however the entire team was not able to meet all on the same day. They created programming for almost every mission, but did not allow the time to put them all together, practicing the two people at the table changing attachments. They did great with the missions – just not with the time. Smile I was really impressed with the team as they did not get frustrated at practice or during the three Game events with time. I think their confidence of knowing the missions would work gave them Joy. Smile Few points, but lots of Joy!

Paula, Lego, Lake 057Paula, Lego, Lake 059

The team created cheers to shout during the match. The matches were a lot quieter than I had thought they would be. Two teams in a huge gym with maybe one or two teams looking on. Quiet and still. Our little T A C O Taco T A C O Taco F O R C E Team had fun!

Paula, Lego, Lake 060Paula, Lego, Lake 063

Paula, Lego, Lake 065

Paula, Lego, Lake 068Paula, Lego, Lake 075

The Scores

Paula, Lego, Lake 076

The scores – this is where it gets harder to write. The good news is, overall – we placed 8th out of 20 teams. Which, sort of bewilders me. As our table scores were pretty low, completing only one mission at each round.

The team mates were really intimidated by the Project Judges. They forgot to give their research data to the judges, and did not really present to board to the judges. Their presentation, although filled with fun and creativity during the Kiwanis and Family presentations, was quiet and rushed in front of the three quiet unsmiling judges. The team shut down, and didn’t really answer any questions with detail. My heart broke listening to it. I thought the judges would try to pull out the information, but they took the team for unrehearsed and unknowing. The scores reflected this.

The Robot Design was the most fun event – Nathan and Clyde answered the judges questions in detail. Again, the team members forgot to show their information to the judges for the programming and the flow chart of how the robot was created and designed. Our youngest members were the best creative juice and builders, our girls were savy programmers and able to see the detail of what to change in the programs, our older boys had the patience to continuing to hone the programs when they failed. However, when the judges asked the kids if they helped with the missions, they ALL wagged their heads no. I actually giggled, cause it was funny, but then I saw from the scores that it was not. They marked us low in the scores, with the assumption that the coach had done all the work. I was and am baffled. We did spend time learning a lot of the skills, but the kids had reasons for not using the sensors, for using the forklift, for designing their attachments. One of our team mates came to league time with the forklift idea printed out. I could go on and on with the ideas that I would have used had it been my choice, my direction – but I allowed them to use their ideas. I thought that was the FLL way. We scored quite low on Robot Design. I saddened me, as I thought, except for the one question, that they answered the questions with excitement and clear voice.

The Teamwork Challenge was a lot of fun for the kids. They competed the task quickly, and had a rambunctious time in the hallway each telling what they had come up with to complete the task. The mentor in the room said that they answered the questions well. However on the scores, we had criss-cross scores. A few in excellent and a few in the lowest category.

Overall – I thought that Teamwork became their best area. Two elementary schools, Two homeschools, 9 children, 3 batches of siblings, all working together, on a project – that they knew nothing about. On technology that had never been seen by them before. With a coach they had never met. We brought on the older sisters near the end of the season, as they had been in and out of the meetings, and wanted to help with the posters. We were marked down for their involvement  – but I would not discredit their joy, cheers and enthusiasm for the team with a score. They thought that they would receive Participation Awards – but our tournament did not have any. They said that the name badges were the participation indicators.

Nine rookie kids and one rookie coach, walking blind, in a town without mentors, studying Biomedical Engineering in a town with very limited medical resources, learning what FLL is, what the core values are, learning how to research, how to implement ideas as a group, how to draw out prototypes of alert systems, logos and robot designs, how to take those prototypes into fruition in their t shirts and machines, and then, present their progress before their community, leaders, family and Judges in a distant town.   . . . .

I give them High Marks. Smile  The scoring at the tournament  – seems to be the only thing that contradicts what we learned as coaches for FLL. There is no trophy for the teams that have struggled, grown, failed, continued failing, and kept going with joy, fun and learning

  • My sons said that they really have gotten over the “failing thing” being a big deal. 
  • My husband remarked even just this evening of how our youngest son does not get frustrated easily.
  • My oldest son said that he thinks he has lost his fear of talking in front of strangers.
  • One of the team members said that they have learned to use the internet for a tool for research for their homework,
  • and I have heard their cooperation grow, their team grow, and their spirits soar.

I give them High Marks in deed – if there was an FLL Core Values Trophy – I would award it to this little Taco Force Team. Smile

About +Angie Wright

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
This entry was posted in First Lego League, Lego, Some Schooling and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Taco Force the Long Re-Cap of the Qualifying Tournament!

  1. WOW! Looks and sounds very interesting – on many levels!

  2. From my NXT family to yours….congrats on completing your mission! I know the hard work and dedication it takes to get this sort of project to the competition and I appreciate your very good attitudes about the experience of competing. Like all competitions, there are tricks to knowing how to handle things and now that you have gone through the process one time you will be so much more ready for the next time.

    Love your team spirit.

  3. theCoach says:

    Team Taco Force,

    Congratulations on an 8th place showing! That is fantastic!

    I am ecstatic that you all had fun at the tournament and that each of you got something out of the experience. FLL is not just about the robot and the research. It truly teaches you life lessons. Those last few bullet points are well worth the time and effort that all of you put into it.

    I am extremely disappointed to hear about your experience at the tournament. It sounds like the judges or tournament officials were not well trained. Having enthusiastic judges can draw out a team and grumpy judges can do just the opposite. You definitely should have received some kind of participation medal. It was remiss of them not to give something out to all the teams.

    Despite your experience, I see a lot of smiles, which I was glad to see. Don’t be discouraged with your QT experience this year. You accomplished a hec of a lot and have a strong foundation to build on for next year. Be assured that your QT experience is unusual and you’ll have a much better experience next year.

    Congratulations again on a great showing in your rookie year. You’ll only get better and I expect some trophies in your hands next year. GO Taco Force!

  4. Carletta says:

    What fun! My son is a big lego guy. He’s getting Mindstorms this Christmas!

    • pebblekeeper says:

      Thanks for stopping by Carletta! My advice is to go to the NXT website and pick out little challenges for him to do! I have met quite a few kids that get the kit, they get frustrated, and then hide it in a closet forever. 🙂 I’d take a project each month to challenge him with, there are quite a few projects on line. 🙂

  5. Corine says:

    WOW! I am TOTALLY IMPRESSED! I got a bit emotional, too. Thanks for carrying me through that amazing experience. And I’m with you… those kids did AWESOME! Sometimes the greatest learning comes from tiny little mistakes that leave low marks in the short run… and huge marks of growth in the end. I’m happy for you all. WELL DONE! 😀

  6. Joy says:

    Looks like fun was had by all! Stopping by from the Hip Homeschool Hop!

  7. Karen says:

    Sounds like you all learned alot and were successful. I’m sorry the scores didn’t reflect that. Congratulations on all the hard work!

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