Thursday, September 1, 2011

Feelin' More Than Just Ducky

Our team’s anticipation was intense as we waited for the results of the MoonBots 2.0 Google Lunar X Prize LEGO MINDSTORMS Challenge.  There were so many extremely talented teams around the world and so many amazing entries.  It was a tough competition.  Thus, we are so grateful, honored and thrilled to have been awarded second place in the MoonBots 2.0 competition.  By winning this prize, we will be able to build, program and compete with robots at the next level.   
We want to congratulate the winning teams, LegoAces and Lunar Lords, along with all the other participating teams.  We learned a lot from each other.
We thank all those involved in the MoonBots competition.  Specifically, we would like to thank MoonBots Google Lunar X Prize LEGO MINDSTORMS for organizing the competition, Team Indus for their mentoring, guidance and belief in us, Michael Doornbus of for his inspiration, research and podcast, Fox 9 News and Woodbury Bulletin for their media coverage of Team Just Ducky and Eva Resa Publishing for their guidance and encouragement with our book.
Personally, we appreciate the knowledge we have gained through our work during the this competition.  It has been an extremely extraordinary experience for us all.  We learned about space exploration from some of the top innovators in the world and applied our science and math skills to program and design our robot.  The outreach project helped us to reach out to the global community.  We were also able to improve our presentation skills by producing videos, interviewing with the media, writing a book, publishing blogs, creating our website, and utilizing social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
As a team we learned a lot about leadership skills, team work, gracious professionalism, the importance of time management, sportsmanship and entrepreneurship.  All this is key to working in a global, virtual environment. This has been an invaluable experience.   
This has been a great journey for us all.  We are excited to be part of history as private industries have now taken over space exploration to the moon.  We are honored to be invited to Team Indus’s launch to the moon in 2014.  We support them and look forward to their success.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fox 9 News

Team Just Ducky will be interviewed live on Fox 9 News Monday at 6:30 am! There will be four live two and a half minute segments, with two 20 second teasers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Elva Resa Publishing

Sharing our STEM outreach project at Elva Resa Publishing :)

Sharing our STEM Outreach project at Elva Resa Publishing.

LEGO Contest

Team Just Ducky will be demonstrating their robot on the LEGO moon's surface as well as sharing their STEM storybook outreach project at our event.
Lego Contest Saturday August 20, 2011 10am-5pm - Saturday August 20, 201110am-5pmGalleria (Edina)Register in any store by Wednesday, August 17.Come show off your LEGO skills with builders of all ages!

Newspaper Interview

Team Just Ducky was interviewed by Amber Kispert of the local newspaper, Woodbury Bulletin. Our article will be featured in the newspaper on Wednesday, August 24.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rockets and Robots

Mark your calendars for Just Ducky’s MoonBots “very cool [different & innovative]” STEM Outreach Project.
On Friday, August 12, Just Ducky will present their storybook written and illustrated by Team Just Ducky with guidance and assistance from Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Indus and Karen Pavlicin, award winning writer.
Elva Resa Publishing 
1890 Wooddale Dr. Ste 100
Woodbury, MN
10:00 - 11:30 
Space Exploration Activities:
  • YouTube book trailer video of Ranger the Robot
  • Reading of Ranger the Robot
  • Learn about and select your favorite Google Lunar X PRIZE Team
  • MoonBots Google Lunar X Prize MINDSTORMS Challenge
  • Demonstration of Ranger racing across the MoonBots lunar surface, LEGO Digital Designer, NXT Programming, and team member’s latest iPhone app “Space Pirates”

Image of Just Ducky’s MoonBots Robot

Fan mail from neighbor, Sarah, six and a half years old.

Over the past few days Team Just Ducky has made progress on our robot and programming. We have been able to write sub VI’s to help our robot navigate successfully across the table. We had some problems figuring out how to use LabVIEW but a local FRC team helped us figure out some kinks in our program.  For example in LabVIEW it reads the rotation sensor slightly different from NXTG. Our robot also includes most of the things in our proposal and can climb craters/ridges with success. We have yet to start programming the actual missions but our robot is functioning awesome. However, the NXT plug in we have for LabVIEW is really buggy and doesn’t run things quite as consistently as we do in NXTG.  Because of this, we are going to program in NXTG for lack of a better option. We might try a different version of NXT LabVIEW to see if that increases accuracy and efficiency. We are waiting for our additional sensors to arrive.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Robot Progress

Our robot design has turned out to be very effective. In the back of the robot we have two very large wheels geared down to increase accuracy. In the front we have a set of pivoting plastic tracks to help climb ridges and craters. To transfer power from the wheels to our tracks we use a set of rubber tracks. Unlike using gears or chain to transfer power, the rubber tracks greatly increases our ability to climb over obstacles. Our arm consists of two motors. One NXT motor that lifts/lowers the arm, and a Power Functions motor that allows us to open and close our claw. This allows us to pick up the helium/water whether they are upright, fallen over, sideways, or upside down. Our robot is made solely out of yellow and black pieces for a “cool” factor. The robot is fairly heavy due to its size, brick, 4 motors, and a power functions battery pack. It does however function smoothly and effectively. Mission control is closed for 10 days due to the fact that three of our Moonbot members are on vacation.  It will be crunch time when we return back to head quarters.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Story Time!

So far we have drafted half of our book. The book keeps being edited, re-edited and yet again re-edited. We now understand why it can take authors about two years to write and complete a storybook.  Currently our illustrator, Anita,  has drawn pictures for half of the storybook.  We decided to tell half of the story to the children next-door to see how well children liked and understood the story line.  They made some great suggestions, that we never would have thought of. We have already started to make these changes. The children could not believe that "REAL ROBOTS" are ACTUALLY GOING TO THE MOON.

Questions and comments from the kids:
Are robots really going to the moon?
Why are they going to the moon?
 I didn't know there were real robots going to the moon.
How do you make a LEGO robot?
How does a robot get to the moon?
I will like your book better when I can see more pictures of robots.
I want to go to Mars because I like to play in the sand.

Best of all........."After our nap,  we will come over to hear the rest of the story."

Writing a storybook book is harder than it appears. It never seems to be perfect, there is always room for improvement.  We are asking for ideas from children of different ages to contribute to the story. We are enjoying the journey, and can't wait to finish and release our final product.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Journal Entry One

Team just Ducky met with Karen Pavlicin, award-winning writer, and shared our outreach project/storybook.  We appreciated Karen's excellent feedback, ideas, and advice.  We were inspired, at the same time, overwhelmed with the tasks that lay ahead.  It seems impossible to create, illustrate, and write a good story in just a matter of a few weeks!  Out team will work long hours to make the impossible possible.

Progress to date:

  • targeted our demographic audience
  • story will be educational with lots of good information
  • teachers can use the book to teach
  • story will hold kids interest and they will want to read it again and again
  • story contains challenges, obstacles, and of course a happy ending
  • identified the setting
  • created qualities of characters 
  • determined location for press release
  • created storyboard  
  • discussed fun storyline and illustrations

Now we will work on the hardest part:  Telling the story

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Team Just Ducky

Hi everybody! Team Just Ducky is honored to be selected from the 75 talented teams worldwide. Congratulations to all.