The Bowmar Builders are an FLL team associated with Bowmar Elementary School. The purpose of this blog is to help other students interested in robotics to learn from what we have learned. As an FLL Robotics team we use the Lego EV3 robotics system and the Mindstorms graphical programming language.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sensor Tips

By Adan and Mateo Byrd

Push sensors are used to tell if you are touching something. Uses: line up against a wall, see if you have gone far enough, stop from hitting a wall or object. Find distances (run until you push it, look at revolutions.) Use to start the program for competition. When pushing something with an attachment, use on the end to see if you actually pushed the thing.

Follow lines. Stop at colors. Detect attachment (with built in color blocks) and start programs.

Determine how far away you are from an object.  Be careful with blocking the sensor with attachments. Not good less than a couple of inches. Use with math block to determine distance to travel.

Precise turning. Needs to be between wheels. Best when turning center point is at the gyro (I.e. Pivot turn.) Susceptible to grounding problems (constantly counting turns) when powering on robot (just unplug and plug back in)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Coaches Playbook

Since we are starting up the new year I thought it would be helpful to map out the general game plan I go by for the season.

Since we tend to coincide with football season, it will make for a good analogy to use quarters. The overall timeline is from FLL challenge release to the qualifier. Assuming we make it past the qualifier then we work up a new game plan for state (and hopefully beyond!)

Kickoff: Team kickoff meeting. I lay out my expectations of the team members (e.g. attend practice, write blog articles, be respectful, be willing to learn new things and, most importantly, have fun together. Work with parents to figure out meeting schedule. Have team choose the team captain (and co-captain if they want) and leaders for team spirit, project, robot, and core values.

1st Quarter: This stage the team is the transition from forming (who is on the team) to storming (who does what role). Key goals are leadership training, fun team-building activities, playing with the legos and programming, and getting them started learning the basic physics that goes into building a robot.

Timeline: 1-3 weeks.

2nd Quarter: This stage is about transitioning the team from storming (who does what role) to norming (how do the individuals perform their role and interact with each other.) This time is focusing more on learning how to create, test, and recreate individual components of the robot and small-level programs that allow the students to test robot features and learn how to control the robot. The team should be focused on learning about the science of the theme, researching project ideas, and developing a game plan for the project. Core values should be emphasized. Practice core values games and play the respect game. Team identity items (logos, costumes, lanyards, etc.) should be figured out.

Timeline: 4ish weeks.

3rd Quarter: This stage is about transitioning the team from norming (how do individuals perform their roles and interact) to performing (making it happen.) The team project should be completed, documented, and have posters made of what you did. The team should create, test, and refine the strategy for the robot competition and work to create the robot body/drive train and begin developing the attachments. Continue to practice core value games and play the respect game. Programmers should begin composing longer programs. Begin crafting the presentations (project, core values) and working out speaking/acting parts. Order team T-shirts if you haven't already.

Timeline: 4ish weeks

4th Quarter: This is the final countdown stage. At this point the team should be performing reasonably well together, folks know what they are good at and how they can contribute, and team morale should be pretty high. It is a stressful time but one that is manageable because they have prepared and practiced. Video them working though core value challenges and give them feedback. The team should work though timed practice robot challenge events (lots of times!) They should practice their core values presentation (videod, with feeback) and they project presentation (also videod, with feedback.) Cell phones/iPads work great for filming. If you can practice with another team and get feedback from them (and give them feedback!) so much the better.  Work through talking about the robot and programs. Put together a book of programs, attachments.

Timeline: Whatever time you have left until the meet.

Last 2 minutes: The day or two before the meet, pull together the items for the meet checklist, and make sure everyone has washed their team T-shirt. Have the binders/posters/props/etc. all finished. Figure out rides for everyone. Night before: CHARGE THE ROBOT. Help everyone get a good nights rest! They will be judged on their performance, so crabby/sleepy team members will not be good. Help them all have a good breakfast that morning. During the event: stay positive. Whatever happens, stay positive. The robot breaks, that's ok, they know how to fix it. Sensors aren't working? That's ok, they know how to program without sensors, and they can do it quickly. Something went wrong in a skit? It's ok, the judges won't know you had planned to do something different (make sure you tell them that.) They will look to you as the coach for the energy level they need to have and guidance on what to do. You need to be positive and keep encouraging them to have fun, smile, and do their best. It is a lot of pressure, but it is also a lot of fun because the team is really performing together.

Time's Up: You did it! Celebrate what you were able to accomplish together! Team spirit doesn't end just because the meet is over. If you get to go on to the next round, take a breather and then figure out the game plan for going forward.

Monday, May 15, 2017

2017-2018 Team Application

Team applications are being accepted! We can have up to 10 people on our team. We will use a google doc form this year. Parents and students will need to work together to complete the form.

Apply Here

The application form will be open through the 31st of May, after which we will chose the new team. The fee to be on the team this year will be $150. This lets us by snacks/parts/t-shirts/etc., pay for competition entrance fees, etc. If we go beyond State there will be additional fees.

Good luck!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Donate to Gallant Hearts!

Kroger Community Rewards is a program that will donate a portion of your purchase price to the charitable organization you choose.
To sign up (the first time) for Kroger Community Rewards:
  1. Visit the Enrollment page
  2. Create an account if you do not already have one (Select “Create an Account” and give them your information.)
  3. Once you have an account, sign in if you are not already signed in.
  4. Click on the “Community” menu item
  5. Click on the “Kroger Community Rewards” option.
  6. Select “Enroll Now”
  7. You’ll need to “Add a Plus Card” if you have not already. This links your purchases to your rewards program.
  8. Scroll down to “Community Rewards” and select “Enroll”
  9. Enter your information and select enter.
  10. Search for “Gallant Hearts”.
  11. Select “Gallant Hearts Guide Dog Center #63992” and click enroll.
  12. Start shopping!

Amazon Smile is a rewards program through will donate 0.5% of your purchase price to the charitable organization you choose.
Frequently Asked Questions about Amazon Smile.
How to sign up:
  1. Visit
  2. Log in to your account, if needed
  3. Under “Pick your own charitable organization” search on “Gallant Hearts”
  4. Next to “Gallant Hearts Guide Dog Center” choose select
  5. Start shopping!

Friday, December 9, 2016


By Stella E.

Our team displayed coopertition during the season by blogging for our team website. Through our website we shared ideas on how to build the robot, how to make different attachments, how to arrange sensors, core values, project ideas, etc. We invited another team to come to our Puppy Training Boot Camp.


 By: Lauren K.

To our team integration mean that we apply skills from robotics into everyday life. For example, Stella works in the library. A few days ago there was a girl who was sad and she helped her to be happy. I learned that it is important to respect others and be nice to them, so I have worked hard at being nicer and more respectful to my brother.


By Stella E.

To me discovery is beginning with the end in mind by focusing and understanding the big rocks to create a plan. Our team used this core value a lot at the beginning of the season. We discovered that communication and leadership are important.