Friday, April 27, 2012

They deserve it...

Posted by Dawn at Friday, April 27, 2012 0 comments Links to this post

Finally after going through the grueling competition for the past few days and the horrendous training for the past 4-5 months, my students can finally relax and enjoy. I was somewhat their guide for the next few days as I planned where to take them. We had 3 days of R & R. So I thought of bringing them to Disneyland on the 1st day (since its near our hotel), San Diego on the 2nd and LA City on the 3rd day.

Woke up the very next morning after the competition for a swim in the hotel pool. I was excited to jump in as I needed some outlet to de-stress after all that competition. I just had to have time all by myself..

In Disneyland, we split ourselves up into 2 groups- the dare devil group and the chicken group! Ha..Of course, I went for the rides with 4 other students while the rest went for the kiddy rides!
I had an awesome time with my group as we played and talked..even shared meals together. I really felt like their a close sense. One of them actually commented that I am just like an older version of them. I take that as a compliment!
After the rides, we met up with the other group for dinner and to watch the floating parade. Having been to Disneyland for at least 4 times, I still enjoyed myself. Its probably the child in me that sees everything fun and exciting. I took pictures of the float just to show my children when I go back home.
We stayed on for the fireworks which took place at 930pm. Before that, we had Macdonalds for dinner as we sat on the road to eat. We actually went out of Disneyland to take away and eat in Disneyland.Yes, we had many stares but who cares.
The fireworks was well worth the wait. It was much more exciting than the ones I have seen before as Tinkerbell flies around the castle with the fireworks in the background. The music and theme of the various segments were awesome as well.
On our 2nd day to San Diego, it was about 1.5- 2 hours ride.We first went to Carlsbad Outlet Shopping on the way there. The students simply love shopping!
Most of them slept through the journey..I was mostly awake as I just wanted to soak in as much as I can wherever I am to enjoy the scenery and the sights. Spotted many wildflowers along the highway. Its awesome!
Then we dropped by San Diego Bay..just to take some pictures
Also spotted interesting trees which we just HAD to take a picture with it. Here are the guys trying to get on it!
Check out the amazing roots. Looks so artistic.
We did a short city tour of San Diego which the students were not interested in. On our way back, we dropped by at Walmart for more shopping. For dinner, I made a reservation near our hotel to Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant. This restaurant is run by Roy Yamaguchi who is a famous chef in US, since being a James Beard Award Winner. He has 31 restaurants all over the world. So to reward them, I brought them here and I had great steak and red wine for dinner. Here's what a couple of my students had.
After dinner, we packed our luggage to see how much space left for more shopping the next day. After that, the students wanted to swim. It was 1130 pm then already and when we went down, we discovered the pool was closed. So we ended up talking outside the pool for a while . It was very cold by the way, if you cant already tell.
Next day, we went to LA City for a short tour of Hollywood Walk of Fame. But before that, we dropped by at Santa Monica Beach.
Dropped by Apple Store which most of them were dying to go! So I made special arrangement with the van driver to take us there so as not to disappoint my students.

Most of them came out of the shop with a new set of beats headphones which cost US$300!! Cant believe it!

Anyway, as long as they were happy! Sightseeing in LA was definitely more fun than San Diego.

Again we split ourselves up into 2 groups and at a certain time, we would meet back at our starting point. I went out with the guys this time round and whoever I am with, I would always make sure we had a good time and we did! We walked quite a bit before settling down in Macs for a snack and drink!
After walking along the Walk of Fame, we went to Santee Alley, Fashion District to take a look as recommended by my ex-student who migrated to California. Its something like our version of Pasar Malam where they sell cheap stuff.
After that, we went to Citadel Outlet shopping before heading back to our hotel.
Check out the colourful M & Ms in the candy store! So nice!
For dinner, I brought the students to the Cheesecake Factory. Don't think they only sell Cheesecake. Its a huge restaurant with a huge menu- lots of varieties!
I ordered deep fried calamari to share as starters and a herb crusted salmon for my mains.
My student, Sharmaine had a miso glazed salmon which looked really pretty on the plate.
After dinner, the students had to gather in our rooms to pack up their robots and luggage as it was our last night in US.
The students packed real fast as they wanted to swim before the pool closes. I was too lazy to swim with them but I went along to accompany and see them enjoy themselves in the pool
The next day, we went IHOP for breakfast.
I just had to go IHOP before leaving US to reminisce the time I ate there before in the past. I had the most healthy meal at IHOP as we have been overeating. SO I purposely ordered something healthy and lesser.
After breakfast, we packed up and checked out of our hotel. While waiting for our transport, it was actually our first time experience the heat in Anaheim as the weather had been quite cooling throughout.

The flight back was good as my students all slept throughout. I was awake watching movies after movies and playing my ipad games.

I was looking forward to going back home and see my family as I miss them so much but at the same time, I know I will really miss these guys as well as it will be my last time with them on an overseas trip as I will be moving on to another robotics system besides Vex. So I wont be working with these guys anymore. Sobsob.

I really salute and admire them for their hard work. They truly deserve every bit of fun and enjoyment we had in US after all that they had gone through--blood, sweat, tears..LITERALLY!

Thanks guys for teaching me so much and being an inspiration to me!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Competition days in Anaheim

Posted by Dawn at Saturday, April 21, 2012 0 comments Links to this post
The competition days in Anaheim, California was from 19th to 21st.
Since it was my first time in the Worlds Competition, I do not know what to expect but probably more intense and tiring than Asia Vex Competition in Taiwan last year since this time we will be competing against few hundred teams, a total of almost 20 different countries.
However, I was wrong. In fact, it was more fun and relaxing than Asia Vex Competition. I think Asians are just too tensed and competitive. So, there was quite a lot of animosity during the competition with our competitors and judges. However here in the Worlds, everyone just seem to be having so much fun! It was a more encouraging and fun environment! This is a picture of 2 of my students with Green Egg Team which is famous in the Robotics scene since last year's amazing robot which they built!
Take a look! Our school did well in the local and Asia competitions that we got 4 seatings in the World Competition. So we built 4 robots for the competition. The students named them FT2 (Fast Turtle Version 2), Atom (name from Real Steel Movie), Thor and Zeus.
I have to say my students have practiced so hard that they stand out among the rest of the few hundred teams. When I was viewing their competition, I heard the Americans commenting how good our robot fast and efficient. I felt so proud of my students and just by being part of this whole experience.
Judges also came by our booth many times to view our robot.. and to see how it works...and to see if we deserve any awards for the design and creativity for building this robot.
The whole convention centre is a huge place and this whole place was used for the competition. There were booths set up for various exhibits like the mars rover and the future lab.
Anyway, after each team played for 10 matches in the qualifying rounds, all our 4 teams manage to get into the top 10 which gives us a chance to choose our alliance and have a chance in the finals. My role there was basically to run lots of errands! I was in charge of buying food for the students, making sure they are not hungry.
I also planned and make sure that their schedule for the day is running smoothly as they have to go and report for their matches and to rest their robots and to assign a "coach" with them. Each team basically has 3 people. We have 2 controllers who control the robot and for the third person, he would be the "coach" or I would say, "play maker" to direct the controllers and tell them where to go. Here's my working table where I plan the schedule..
And our results for the day..written in marker. Some matches we lost because our teams fought against each other. So one team had to lose.
I was also the coach for the team. So went into the matches to compete with them. This match that I was in was the semi-finals.
There was also the unveiling of our next game/challenge for the new season which we were all excited about. Every season, there is a new challenge to compete in..This year's game is called "Gateway" Next year's game is called, "Sack Attack".

I was a little disappointed by the announcement and introduction of the new game as it seems so juvenile since its all about sacks. (brings me back to my primary school days). However, it is very challenging as its not easy to build a robot to pick up the sacks as its quite thin and light. Moreover, de-scoring is back! It means after scoring your sacks in the goal, your opponents can swipe it away and de-score your sacks!

Anyway, on the final day of competition, our teams did outstanding. In the end, 2 of our teams fought against each other to get into the finals.

Besides the main fighting event, we also have skills challenge which was a side event competition which our school came in top 3. In the end, the top 2 teams displayed their robot skills in front of a crowd of thousands to see who is the ultimate winner and I was so scared they would fumble in their controlling but I was so proud of them as one of the team obtained a PERFECT score in it within a time limit of 1 min!

With the pressure from the time and crowd and the "mission impossible" music playing in the background (how 'apt' this music was chosen to play), team Atom emerged as the winner and manage to get all the balls and barrels into the goal within 1 min which no team in the world could achieve it! So it was a world record set! So proud of them!

In the end, we won a total of 9 awards. The best school with the most number of awards in the competition! -Robot Skills World Champion (1st, 2nd and 3rd) -Tournament Champion (Middle School Division-1st and 2nd) -Programming Skills (Middle School Division-2nd) -Build Award -Innovate Award -Create Award

All that hard work and sacrifice has finally been paid off and with this results, these guys sure have a great story to tell for the rest of their lives..
Here's the press release of the results

I leave you now with an exciting match by my students in the robot skills challenge with a perfect score in one minute! (video taken and posted by someone in the audience)

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