on a white surface. Most commonly, the line is followed by
using light sensors to detect the line’s position relative to
the robot, however it’s not uncommon to see teams find
alternative solutions. This is a great competition to get
your feet in the water and to see what the LEGO events
are all about.
Scored similarly to normal bowling, the object of LEGO
Bowling is to create a robot that autonomously sends a ball
rolling down the four foot alley to knock down as many of
the pins as possible. While this may seem like an easy task,
consider that the ball is only two inches in diameter and the
pins are even smaller. This event is primarily an engineering
challenge to create a mechanism that will launch a ball
accurately down the lane to knock the pins down.
LEGO Bowling is a great opportunity to hone in on your
mechanical skills if you’re ready for a step up from the
standard LEGO car design.
LEGO TubePush is an excellent event for builders of all
levels to test their abilities and learn from each other. The
goal of the competition is to pick up, move, and/or knock
down as many tubes as possible. While the scoring system
may be a bit confusing, it’s designed to give everyone a
chance to win — from the most advanced robot that can
detect and pick up every single tube, to a simple rover that
runs through the “S” shaped course to the finishing area
while knocking down tubes along the way. LEGO TubePush
is an excellent event for just about any robotics hobbyist, as
it offers challenges for every experience level.
While technically in its own category of events (Sumo),
LEGO Sumo is one of three LEGO events that is open to
contestants both under and over 18. The event is an
extremely exciting one — two teams go head to head and
try to push the opposing robot out of the black Sumo ring.
The goal is to either push your opponent’s robot out of the
ring or to incapacitate him while avoiding a similar fate.
There will always be debate over whether or not it’s
appropriate to face children against adults in an event of
this caliber, but RoboGames manager, David Calkins, says
“The beauty of LEGO is that it offers an even playing field.
With other robotics competitions, adults have the distinct
advantage of being able to purchase more expensive tools
and parts; whereas with LEGO, everyone is using pieces
from the same sets. So it becomes a question of creativity,
rather than funding.”
This event is a simple, Best-In-Show competition. With
divisions for both juniors and those above the age of 18,
entrants range from Rubik’s Cube solving robots designed
by college graduates, to aquarium maintenance robots
designed by middle schoolers. To those builders who are
drawn to LEGO because of the creativity it entails, this
LEGO In Schools
event is definitely the one for you.
LERN (LEGO Education Robotics Network)
There’s a unique mental condition that often befalls
competitors after RoboGames competitions. RWS — or
Robot Withdrawal Syndrome — is characterized by mild
depression, boredom, and general lack of motivation.
This year, the good people at LEGO Education are starting
a pilot program in the California Bay Area to save our
students from RWS. The program, LERN (a clever acronym
for LEGO Education Robotics Network), is a bold attempt
to turn robotics into a new type of track and field meet;
K- 12 school teams from across California will travel to
neighboring schools to compete in robotics events
ranging from creating a drag-racing robot, to building and
programming a bi-pedal (two-legged walking) robot.
Starting this spring, LERN will include many of the
LEGO events from RoboGames listed previously, as well as
LEGO Bull in a China Shop
An excellent event for rookie teams, Bull in a China
Shop is a fairly simple event. The competing robot starts in
a ring and is programmed to knock a variety of objects out