AVC 2012 for Kids


Hey kids and young adults! AVC 2012, taking place at SparkFun headquarters on June 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., has a special educational robotics activity for you!

At this year's competition, we will have an 8-by-8 foot maze, as well as a racetrack, where you can compete and play with robots. You can build with LEGO, VEX, Arduino, BASIC STAMP, PIC, Gears ... whatever you want! Bring your robot to AVC and we'll help you run the courses. 

Kids will run their races between the adult heats, and each kid will have three runs (time permitting, we hope to also get a few practice runs in). If the maze is a bit challenging, we will weigh it against the plain speed track to form the judging rubric.

A couple of technical points:

  • Your robot should be less than 8 inches wide to fit through the maze.
  • The course walls will be approximately 3 inches tall, and painted white for calibration.
  • You can run any platform you bring, as long as it does not harm the other robot. Good sportsmanship please!
  • We will break out three age groups -- 8 and under, 8-12, and 12 and up -- but we may run you all together.

What if you don't have a robot? Don't despair! We will be providing a limited number of ProtoSnap MiniBots and computers, so kids can play with them and get to run a bot even if they don't have one of their own. There will be SparkFun volunteers to help get everyone straightened out on programming the MiniBot. Unfortunately, we won't be able to help with programming other platforms.

We are scheduling this event on the AVC EventBrite sign up, so if you want a good seat, please register as soon as possible, and let us know how many kids you'll be bringing.  If your entrant(s) will need access to a robot, please email us at education@sparkfun.com; that way we can do our best to make sure we are prepared and no one is disappointed. If you are using one of our robots, we may schedule you around the demand for MiniBot.

See you at AVC 2012!


Comments 22 comments

  • See you all there!

    FIRST 3729

    • My FIRST FTC team 5738 won our entire regional tournament and went on to do well at states; I bet the whole team would love to come (I know I would!). Too bad we live in Virginia.

    • I hope your robot doesn’t do what this robot did in a computer simulation: Robot Fus Roh Dah.

      • We aren’t actually competing in the competition. We’ll be there showing off our robot and driving it around between matches. Our alliance placed third overall in the Denver regional and took home two awards.

        And, that’s an awesome video.

        Fun fact: I was in charge of setting up the hostnames on our robot’s various devices (camera, cRIO, and router). They were all named after Skyrim dragons.

        • I thought I was a nerd, but that trumps it… +1 to you sir.

          • Also added the Skyrim crosshair as a camera image overlay. It made aiming a lot easier.

            Our team had fun this season.

            • Did you have an altimeter so when it goes below a certain height it goes “hidden”? If so, I’d want it.

              • That’s a planned feature. So is handing out “We know” notes — that had to be done manually this season.

                But, seriously. We had an amazing season. I was a programmer, and often had to act quickly to fix bugs during competition. We even had a whiteboard where we would keep track of our code’s branches, bugs, and Git revisions. Check out the season recap video if you have time!

              • Ok for a aerospace project, I,d like to send a balloon to the set altitude(estimated by the recorded burst height from balloon manufacture)And when it comes down their would be one small drogue chute outside of the capsule,and then this larger parachute inside this compartment on top of the capsule, if I had a altimeter(electronic barometric sensor/resistor) that once I pass a certain altitude proportional to the pressure and density, the altimeter would let electricity through to a bare metal resistor to burn a small string, letting the tension from an external spring, pull the little hatch off,consequently the force from the drogue chute would pull the larger one out.

                The reason for this,is that since the launch is going to be in Florida, we need to get up as fast as possible and descend as fast as possible to avoid landing in the ocean.

                Where would I find such electronic component? And set it up.

                The temperature would be a substantial factor in the operation of this altimeter, so hopefully you could lead me to a rather good/hard one. :)

                Thanks. Edward King Tampa injury attorney

                • You can use a Barometer/temp sensor. This is relatively well documented around the web. There are also prebuilt altimeters used in model rocketry, again fairly easy Google search. Good luck, balloons are awesome and we love them.

                • Follow Miskatonic’s advice.

  • so…since when can kids under 8 even build robots?

  • I’m not sure I understand this. Are these RC robots or autonomous robots?

    • We are shooting for autonomous, but for kids, I feel like I would let everyone have a go. This is to give kids a chance to run stuff and hang out. If you’ve been to an AVC, you understand that it is a fairly informal setting. This keeps it in line with our fairly informal company culture.

  • What’s age limit for 12 and up? I’m assuming you don’t want adults in this event.

    • If you look too old we ask you to go play with the big kids. I would cut it off around High School.

      • Then you might want to change the first sentence in the article by replacing “young adults” with something like “teenagers”. 18 and 19 year olds are no longer minors, and therefore legally adults for most purposes under the law. However to me, and probably others as well, “young adults” would imply the event is open to people in their 20s as well.

        Edit: Although I suppose there could be some high school seniors in their early 20s, but in my experence the youngsters this event is intended for aren’t the normally the type to be held-back multiple years.;)


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