Monday, December 22, 2008


I just found out that our friends in Denmark have been notified that they are going to be competing in Atlanta at the FLL World Festival. Nice work NXT Generation!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I just updated my Brickshelf page with some images from JMMB, plus you can check out some of the other stuff I've built.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holy cow, I won!

I competed yesterday at the Junior Master Model Build-Off at LEGOLAND. Me and 9 other adults squared off at 2:00 PM and had one hour to build something with the theme "space". I had a few ideas before going in but that was the extent of my preparation. After sizing up the available parts (we all started with identical bins and had several other bins to dig through) I had to throw out my first two ideas of a LEM and astronauts and an Apollo rocket. I moved on to do a space station. After building for a while I noticed my scale seemed too small for a space station and it was looking sorta like the Hubble. When a spectator asked if I was building a Hubble I knew it was time to shift gears again. So knowing that our dear Hubble is entering it's golden age I decided to build the next generation space telescope. We all build feverishly for one hour and everyone did an amazing job. When I saw the other models I have to admit my heart sank a little. I didn't think I had any chance. The judges came by and we talked about my creation and then they reset for the awards. After watching the other age catagories it came time for us. We all lined up and got our trophies and certificates. Then they announced the winner and I was totally stunned to hear my name announced. I won!!!

My prize package included 4 one day tickets, 4 resort memberships, 4 LEGO sets, a hat, a shirt, a book, a keychain, a meet and greet with a master model builder and a mosaic of myself. And of course, the trophy :-)

Thanks to my family for cheering me on and to LEGOLAND for sponsoring such a great event. Congrats to all the other builders, you all rocked.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Season 2009 announced

Hey FLL fans!

FIRST has announced the theme for next year's challenge: Smart Move. It's all about transportation, and sounds like it's going to be very cool.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I've uploaded pictures from LEGOLAND, click here to see them

Monday, December 08, 2008

LEGOLAND was a blast!

Well, it all came down to luck this weekend, unfortunately it wasn't the good kind of luck. All missions have something that can go wrong with them, and we seemed to be having that more than we would have liked. I believe our final ranking was 12 out of 56 which is nothing to be ashamed of and we had very high marks on our project. You all did an amazing job on Saturday and I am very proud of you all.

I spoke with Lynn Crockett from LEGOLAND yesterday and she said she heard our name a lot the day before so you all made an impression, that's very good.

I will upload my pictures soon, if anyone else took pictures or video please let me have it so we can share.

I owe a big thank you to those that helped so much. Mickey, you were an awesome coach and a much appreciated companion, thanks. Theresa, you taught the team so much about sea level rise they are all experts now. Dianna, your help on the project was amazing, and thanks for letting us take over the garage and the house. John, Gayle and Dawn, thank you so much for your financial support, it means a lot. To all the parents who shuttled our team to meetings, got them to do their homework, pushed them to help out and schlepped them down to LEGOLAND, thanks.

Unless we attend the LEGOLAND invitational in Jan or Feb our work is now finished. Good job team, see you next season!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

That's what I'm talkin' about!

That was an absolutely amazing meeting last night, you were all on fire! Not only did we successfully combine two missions, we re-thought another and built the attachments and programmed it in one night! I am very proud of you all.

Today's meeting starts early, basically after school for everyone that can make it. I'm afraid you'll be on your own at the table however, neither me or Mickey can be there until after 6. Dianna can help you with the project stuff, but she doesn't know anything about the table.

This is our last meeting tonight, make it count.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We will have meetings Monday through Thursday this week, from 7-9PM.
Today's meeting starts at 1:00. Eat some lunch and be ready to boogie. We have a lot to do.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Let's make the time we have left count. I want all team members working hard and helping their team. We still have a lot to do and very little time left to do it.

In other news team NXT Generation received our care package and posted a note to thier website. check it out here under the news link.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Care package! We got or care package from our friends in Denmark Team NXT Generation. The whole team (and the coaches) had a fun time going through all the stuff and snacking on gummy everything. Thanks for sharing your culture with us!
Lights, Camera, Action!

On Sunday we spent some time filming video segments for our project. The team had a good time performing in front of a greenscreen.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Schedule this week

It's Thanksgiving week, where we give thanks for a little extra time to get our project and programming done :-)

This week we'll have additional meetings for all who can attend. If you can make it, great, if not, we understand and will see you at the next meeting. We have editing to do, we have programming to do, we have some missions to still work out, we have the project to finalize. I know some of you will be traveling and we won't have every member at any of these meeting quite likely. But if you can make it, I'll be around this week. And if you want to come over at a time not specified below, just call and ask, maybe we can work something out.

Tuesday 7:00 - 8:30
Wednesday 7:00 - 9:00
Thursday 5:00 - 7:00 (Turkey day!)
Friday 3:00 - 6:00 (get your shopping done early!)
Saturday 2:00 - 5:00
Sunday TBD

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pretty productive day team, let's keep up the momentum and good work. We're going to have a special project-only meeting tomorrow (Sunday) from 2-4. We'll have the "production studio" set up with lights, greenscreen and of course a camera. We'll shoot some segments for our video.
Today's meeting (Saturday) is going to have loose start and stop times. From around 1 to 5, maybe later

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanks ACECO!

I would like to give a big shout out to our sponsor ACECO and John Lizarraga. Thank you for supporting our team!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Team members, visit the member page to see your homework assignments.

The Williamson's and Rowes are staying at La Quinta in Carlsbad. This is the link La Quinta Carlsbad

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tournament shirts are here!

This team will be looking sharp at LEGOLAND in December. Our all new 2007 tournament shirts are in. I will give them out tomorrow at the meeting.

Friends and family members, you can have a shirt too. Just visit the shop! Order soon though, we're running out of time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Just about 3 weeks left!

We still have a ton to do and time is running out team. Here's your homework:

Dane - research floating house (what does one need to consider when building a floating house?)

Nick - Provide a graphic depicting how climate change leads to sea level rise.

Austin - map showing seal level rise for Santa Barbara (both 7 and 1 meters).

Rawley - Design the graphics for the news station and desk.

Connor - Harbor text.

Forest - Write a funny commercial.

All team members - give some serious thought to the challenges at the table and the project that we have not solved yet. We all need to work together to get everything done.

We'd also like to send a big shout out to our new FLL friends in South Africa, Kiddiwinks Dream Team! We look forward to sharing our project with you. Team members visit their website at

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Care package!

We are exchanging packages with our friends in Denmark, FLL Team NXT Generation. We had a fun time tonight shopping at Wal-Mart and picking out "American stuff". The team also took pictures (except Forest, who was absent this meeting) and gave a little information about themselves on the back.

No meeting this Saturday, we have too much going on. We'll meet on Sunday from 2:00-5:00. In the mean time, you all need to work on the project. You can all write something.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Hey Team, I thought I'd post some info for the upcoming tournament.

The tournament is at LEGOLAND on Dec 6th, I requested the later starting time but until we get our packet we won't know for sure. In the past we've met in the parking lot first thing in the morning to go over last minute details and to practice our project presentation.

We plan to leave Friday as soon as we can get out of here. We haven't booked a hotel yet, but we've stayed at most of the hotels off of Poinsettia and they're all about the same. The Ramada has a good breakfast, the Quality Inn is alright, the La Quinta is decent. There a lot more hotels in the area too, if someone finds a deal at a nice hotel, let everyone know. we weren't impressed with Motel 6 (but it was cheap!)

We plan to stay 2 nights. Your tickets are upgradable for a second day at the park for free. Don't count on seeing much of it on Saturday, the tournament eats up most of the day. We'll be driving back Sunday afternoon.

Thats about it for now. Meeting tomorrow night at 7:00PM

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Less than a month!

I just gave LEGOLAND our final numbers for the tournament. Go to the members page to see your totals.

We need to get busy team, there's a ton of work to do.

Next meeting is Wednesday at 7:00PM

Monday, November 03, 2008

Good news team. LEGOLAND is offering their second day "Our Gift To You" passes. Simply take your paid ticket to guest services and they will give you a free ticket, good through March 31, 2009. This means everyone going to the December tournament can enjoy a second day at the park for FREE! We were able to take advantage of this before and it was great.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

We're In!!!

I just got confirmation from LEGOLAND that we made the wildcard cut! We'll be competing there in December. Congratulation team, it's going to be an awesome time.

This weekend meeting will be a little earlier than usual, we'll start at 2:00PM. We might actually go longer than usual if everyone is into it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Great meeting!

We made some great progress on the house challenge, thanks in no small part to some inspiration provided by our new friends in Denmark, NXT Generation. We also made some improvements to existing attachments and made a little progress on the project.

As a reminder team members, this Wednesday's meeting will be all-project, and next weekend's meeting will likely not take place because of the Halloween Bash!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Due to the number of team members receiving awards this Wednesday night (congratulations!) we will be moving this week's meeting to Thursday, 7:00-8:30

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Good meeting last night team. We made some good progress programming and it was great to see everyone working hard. I've uploaded some pictures of the team working, here's a link to them

I also wanted to share this picture of our team with our friends in Denmark, team NXT Generation. Visit the link above to see our team working and learn our names.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Uh Oh!
I just found out this morning that in order to compete at LEGOLAND this year we need to compete at a qualifying tournament. The closest QT I can find is in Camarillo on Sunday November 16th from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Since it's so early we have to decide if we're going down Saturday night and staying the night or getting up VERY early on Sunday morning to be there on time (it's about 2 hours south). The deadline for registering is Oct 19 so we have to decide what we are doing very soon. Capacity for the QT is 24-32 teams and about half will move on to Championship tournaments. We'll have to register for LEGOLAND and this QT at the same time. If we do well at the QT then maybe we will get accepted at LEGOLAND. I have sent mail to the organizer to see if there are any slots still available.

There is also a QT at Six Flags Magic Mountain the same day, but the costs will be much higher. this is the website We'll have to discuss this.

This means we have about 6 weeks to prepare for our first tournament! We need to get our project in order, we need to start programming, we need to figure out our mission order, we need to build attachments, we need to do a LOT of stuff.

Last night's meeting was a bit of a wash. You all need to get way more motivated if we're ever going to be close to ready. All I can do is guide you, I can't make you want to learn or succeed.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hello Team NXT Generation!

We would like to send a big shout out to our new friends in Denmark, FLL Team NXT Generation! We are sharing information with them on our projects and learning about each other's countries and communities. Visit their website here. (click the red white and blue flag on the lower left to read in English)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I can't believe we started this meeting with a partially built chassis and ended with our first programmed challenge! We still have a long way to go but it's so great we're past this first threshold.

Team members, for the project we need you to visit this site and learn about rising sea levels in California. Click this link

As a reminder, the meeting this Saturday will be from 3:00-5:30

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Good meeting team.

We had some great ideas for the project, I like where this is going.

Here's your homework:

1. Name of someone to contact (and their contact info) regarding climate change. For instance fireman, meteorologist, etc.

2. 3-4 questions regarding climate change (i.e. what are you curious about, is there something you don't understand?)

3. Any "new or different" scientific idea to explain climate change. For instance lost socks, bubblegum air, dorito dust.

At the table we need to get our chassis locked and our missions started. The clock is ticking, we need to make some progress.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saw this post on Gizmodo, though it interesting and applies to our theme this year.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I know all of you guys aren't visiting the website regularly. But I want to reward the ones that are. The first person at a meeting to use the code phrase "Red brick plus blue brick equals not enough bricks" will win a LEGO prize.

In other news FLL has posted some Q&A rulings. They have added several notes on the table that will help us and clarifies some setup. Check them out here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

That's more like it!

Last night's meeting was WAY better. Busy bodies building bots!

As we discussed last night our new weekend meeting time is Saturdays 4:30-7:00.

See you then!

Monday, September 15, 2008


One of our past sponsors, Dawn Williams (aunt of Austin, Morgan and Rawley) has once again made a generous donation to the team. Thank you so very much!

The meeting yesterday was interesting. As an experiment I decided not to give specific directions to any of the team members. The results: almost nothing was accomplished (at least on the surface). Granted we were several team members shy yesterday, so I didn't expect us to make much progress, but still...

Team members, you need to start taking an active role. It's easy enough for me to say "connect this to that" and then "no, make it bigger, like this" but what is really happening then? The results are me building a robot with someone else's hands. I want you to create it. I know it's daunting, I know some of the challenges are mind boggling, but it's supposed to be. Expect it not to work the first time, or the second, or the eighth time. That's part of inventing, that's part of designing. In my tinkering yesterday I went through 4 different chassis configurations, none of which worked very well. That doesn't mean I failed 4 times, I just discovered 4 ways not to build a robot for this challenge (yes, I'm plagiarizing Edison :-)

Some good did come out of the meeting, nick experimented with Technic building, and whether he knew it or not he was learning about the mathematics of LEGO, stored energy, inertia and kinetics. Austin did some experimenting with mounting a ultrasonic sensor, and discovered at least 3 ways not to do it. Connor learned about drag and friction. And of course we spent some time talking about the project and learning about climate changes. So we're accomplishing something, you guys are learning.

I'd also like to say thanks former team member Morgan for hanging out with us yesterday. It was great having you around again, even if only for a visit.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

This weekend's meeting will be on Sunday, 2-5.

I ordered a rechargeable battery for the NXT today. They're a bit pricy so I only picked up one and a charger for now. We'll give it a go and see how it works. It will pay for itself in a couple seasons and it allows us to build our robot in such a way that we don't have to worry about removing the NXT. All we need to do is make sure the buttons and display are clear and we can access the charger port.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Hey Team,

I thought this video was pretty cool, and pretty inspiring.

Excellent first meeting team!

Well, we certainly have our work cut out for us. Some of these challenges are pretty strait forward, some are absolutely baffling. But they'll all be fun to figure out. Please try to visit this website often for updates and news. And if you aren't on the mailing group already, give me your email and I'll invite you.

Everyone remember your homework, visit your assigned website and report back on Wednesday with your findings. Give some thought to the climate of the central coast, what other problems can we identify?

Also, think about who might make a good addition to the team, we have up to 2 more slots if you know someone interested in science and technology.

Nick and Forrest, welcome to the team.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Meeting Change

Although the challenge details are being released this Friday, we're going to have our first meeting on Sunday from 2:00-5:00. This day works better for more schedules. That doesn't mean you have to wait to look at the challenge details though. Log in to the FLL site after 9:00AM on Friday and check out what we have in store for us (you can bet I'll be there at 8:59!). I'll make sure the field is fully set up before the meeting. We'll have snacks and drinks.

See you Sunday!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

James Kelly from The NXT Step was kind enough to send me his and Jonathan Daudelin's new book First LEGO League. I know that we get a lot of visitors here and I thought I'd post a mini review.

This book is awesome! I wish that it was available 3 years ago when we formed our team. Even with 2 seasons under my belt I still learned a ton from it and I feel better prepared for the upcoming season. The book covers nearly everything you need to know, from finding members and forming a team to building and programming a robot. It covers all four aspects of FLL with enough detail to be informative, but not so much that it becomes cumbersome. There's even little stories and anecdotes from real teams sprinkled throughout. This book is a wealth of information and is the perfect compliment to the official coach's guide provided by FIRST. It also gives some great insight from a judge's perspective.

If you are an FLL coach, team member, mentor or parent you NEED this book!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The challenge details will be released next Friday. We'll have our first meeting and brainstorming session that day, Sept 5th. I've added that date to the member calendar. In other news, team mentor Alan introduced me to a potential new member, Nick. Hopefully he wants to join us this year and will be at the meeting.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Good news!

My wife Dianna has generously donated her old Toshiba laptop for team use. After some clean up and optimization (and a new desktop image of course) I installed the NXT software this morning and tested it. It works great! I still have to test bluetooth with it (need to get the dongle from the Rowes) but I'm pretty sure it will work fine.

We have a small, portable programming station now.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Build party 2008

I was a great party everyone, thanks for coming! I've uploaded some pictures from yesterday, head on over and check them out.

Build party 2008

Our season is officially underway. We won't know what the challenge or the project is for another month or so, but we have some general ideas of what's ahead. I'd like to welcome our newest member Forest. Unfortunately Austin and Morgan won't be back this year, we're going to miss them.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Party Time!

We're going to have a season kick-off build party tonight (Saturday)

I know it's a bit last minute but I haven't been quite sure where I'd be working this week and had to play it by ear. Turns out I'll be working at home until the end of the month so let's break out the bricks!

We're getting together 5(ish) at my house. We'll go to at least 7 and have some kind of food and snacks. Everyone is welcome so bring the family. If you want to bring something feel free. Give me a call if you have questions.

I'm also posting news to the member page, do you remember your login and password?

See you tonight!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Our Field setup kit is here!

The Fed-Ex guy just dropped off the boxes. Take a look at the pictures.

The kit is smaller than last year, more like it was for Nanoquest. The base is in the corner again too. Lots of balls in the kit, along with several minifigs. There's a polar bear in there too :-)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I wanted to open the discussion of fundraising for the team this year. In the past we haven't been very successful getting any help from local businesses. I was wondering if anyone has any ideas on where we could find some sponsorship. Or if we want to do another fundraising activity. All attempts at getting some press in hopes of attracting a sponsor have failed as well. I will contact KCOY again this year, but I don't have very high hopes they will respond.
Things are ramping up for the 2008-2009 season, Climate Connections! I received an email from LEGO Education that the field kit has shipped. According to the Fed-Ex tracking numbers it should be here Monday!

It's time to call the team back together and see who's in this year. We also need to decide if there's anyone we want to invite to the team. If you know someone who you think would be a valuable asset to the team, let us know.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Well, I didn't win the Lipton contest (bummer)

But...I competed this past weekend at LEGOLAND in the Junior Master Model Builders competition and I won!

I'm posting a link to my new Brickshelf page, you can see my entry there. It's the couple enjoying a picnic.

My Brickshelf page

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Woo Hoo!

I'm a finalist in the Lipton Free Your Y contest on YouTube

Please visit and vote for me! You'll have to cycle through the entries until you see mine.

This is the link to the contest...

Lipton Free Your Y

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Hey Team!

We're officially registered for season 2008!

This year we are team 94 (gets smaller every year). I need to hear from everybody if you are participating. I also need to know if you have any friends who are interested in joining the team.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The team had a great time at RoboChallenge. We saw some great robot designs and were inspired to compete next year. We'll be back with a few of our own robots next time.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Here's the plan for this Saturday if you didn't get the message on your answering machines...

We're meeting at my house at 8AM and leaving very shortly after. One parent per child can attend as well. I put all team members on the list as well as siblings so everyone is welcome. My van seats 7 and so far it's just me and Austin in it (Connor has a birthday party to attend)

If we get there by 9 we will get in for free (normally it's $10 for admission to the Strawberry Festival). We enter at gate 7.

wear your Bricks For Brains shirts, we want to look like a team.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hey team,

I finally finished my LEGO Falcon. Thought I'd upload a pic.

On another topic we need to finalize plans for the strawberry festival this weekend. I'll figure out what we're doing and give everyone a call.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hey team,

This video is amazing. I just had to share it with all of you.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

As usual we had a great time at LEGOLAND. The new Land of Adventure is awesome, we all got to ride Lost Kingdom Adventure twice and loved it. Both boys had a blast (pardon the pun) in the Pharaoh's Revenge as well. Connor also really enjoyed the Cargo Ace plane ride. We also had a great time competing at the Junior Master Model Builder event. This month's theme was "Creator Beach House". Me, Dianna and Austin all entered (Connor was too busy at Build 'N Race). I built a sand pail with a shovel in it, Dianna made a cool little scene with a beach chair and Austin propped a surfboard in his miniature beach house back yard, complete with a BBQ. We still have no idea who won the contest, but it was certainly a good time building.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Hey team members! I kn0w it's been rather quiet here but let's change that. Last night I was contacted by Mrs. Baldwin at VMS and she invited me to be a part of the new Mindstorms robotic club there. I know that some of the Bricks For Brains members are already involved and I'm excited to be included.

She also informed me of a coming event at the Strawberry Festival in Santa Maria, the Robochallenge. It looks like it could be a lot of fun. I don't know if we want to compete (may not have enough time to plan or build) but it would be fun to go and meet some more robot and LEGO enthusiasts. The sumo challenge and the tug-o-war look like a lot of fun though. you can check it out here

Me and the family are off the LEGOLAND again tonight! We're going to check out the new Land of Adventure and compete at the Junior Master Model Builder contest.

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