October 12, 2018

Michigan FLL Registration Deadline extended, Website update, Engineering notebook (Team Email Blast 2018.06)

As I'm still working through emails and calls from the past few days with questions, and some new teams are just signing up, I'm extending registration through tomorrow at 11:59 pm in an attempt to get all current teams in before we make final assignments.

Remember that we don't use the FIRST Dashboard to register. Instead, please follow the directions at 2018 FLL Michigan Event Registration. I cannot take any registrations or special requests by email. It's all handled through the Google form.

Our new website is up! The direct link to the FLL page is http://firstinmichigan.us/FLL/. There are three areas that I think will be especially helpful to teams:
Run a Team - a step-by-step guide to starting and coaching an FLL team
Resources - links to  FLL materials, tutorials, and forms
Events - event information, individual event pages coming soon

In my last email with details about this year's events, I neglected to mention the Engineering Notebook. This is a new resource for teams, but is not a part of the judging process, and it is definitely not required!

All of these Team Email Blasts are archived here (soon to be migrated to the new site here.)

October 5, 2018

FLL Tournament Information, Registration Reminder, Grant Reminder (Team Email Blast 2018.05)

1. Grade Level Alignment
The FIRST in Michigan progressions of programs includes FLL for only upper elementary school students. Michigan grants and events are only open to teams who are correctly aligned. You can find more details in the registration information, and you will be asked to verify your team's grade level alignment when registering for an event. If you have any questions about your team's situation, please let me know.

2. Judging Format for Michigan INTO ORBIT events
As you begin to prepare for judging at events, here are the Michigan-specific details for the 2018 qualifying events:
  • The Core Values poster will continue to be optional for Michigan FLL qualifying tournaments and required for Michigan state championship events. Teams will complete a teamwork challenge in the judging room and are welcome to bring their Core Values poster to show judges if they make one for their qualifying tournaments. 
  • Robot Design judging rooms will not have a challenge field table starting this year. Instead, teams will use the Robot Design Executive Summary (RDES, explained on p.31 of the INTO ORBIT Challenge Guide) to tell the judges about their design at Michigan FLL qualifying tournaments. It will be required at Michigan FLL state championship events as well. Robot performance, as always, will be tested during robot matches.
  • We are not participating in any other pilot programs this year.
Near the end of registration, I will send an event preparation email with more details about attending a qualifying tournament. You will also receive event-specific details (lunch and parking, for example) in an email from your tournament director about two weeks before your event.

3. Registration
Registration will open tomorrow morning, Oct. 6. You can find the link to register in this information: 2018 Michigan FLL Registration. Fill out one form per team. Each team attends one qualifier. There are many details in this information page, please read through it as it may answer many questions you have. 

All currently registered teams will participate in the fall season of FLL. There has been some confusion about the spring events we ran last year. There is no spring season for FLL. We ran a few informal events this past spring to allow teams who registered the week or two before the MDE grant closed on Nov. 8 to fulfill their event requirement for grant funds.   There are none planned at this time, which is why they are not on the schedule. We will plan them as needed for those teams who register in November. These spots are extremely limited because of facility and volunteer limitations in the spring, and they are not open to returning teams or any teams who registered before fall event registration (Oct. 6-12.) 

4. Rosters and Consent Forms
I will email again with reminders and more specific directions as you prepare to attend events in a few weeks, but there is one thing it might be easier for you to know early. Again this year, the Michigan consent and release form, will be required for every event participant.. You can start having parents sign them now to prepare. One other note: if you have an 8 year-old 4th grader on your team, or a 3rd grader, the FIRST system will not let you register them. You can write their name on the roster when you print it to take to your event and attach paper copies of both consent forms for them (print the FIRST national form from within your Dashboard.)

5. Grants Reminder
Grant applications are still open for the MDE FIRST robotics grant (closes Nov. 8) and the FIRST in Michigan Rookie grant. Two formats for info: Google DocWeb page.

6. Team Names
You can change your team name at any time in your team Dashboard up until Oct. 19 and it will be shared with your event host for programs, match schedules, etc. After this date, it is not guaranteed (or likely) that your name change will be passed on to event hosts and many materials will already be printed. Please make it a priority to change your name by Oct.19 when I pull team details for all registered teams. You can see the current team list here.

September 26, 2018

Michigan FLL Qualifying Tournament Application 2018

Qualifying event information is now available for Michigan FLL teams for the 2018 INTO ORBIT season. You can find full details here: 2018 FLL Registration Information and Event List.

Registration will be open Oct. 6-12. The team list is mostly complete, as many final details came in the last few days. It will be complete by Oct. 6 when registration opens, and any added events will be included in the linked document as they are confirmed.

September 11, 2018

FLL Grants - Applications and Details (MI FLL Team Blast 2018.03)

This email contains information and application links on all grants available to FLL teams in Michigan this year.

See FLL Grants and Application Procedures for complete information on all available grants. If you have a question after reading through this email, it is likely answered in this document.

Participation in an official FIRST in Michigan FLL qualifier is a requirement of all grants.

MDE Grant

MDE FIRST Robotics State Grant is now open for application. The State set aside $3 million of a $3.5 million grant JUST for FIRST teams! Please review this linked letter about the MDE FIRST Robotics State Grant for news and info on the grant, including key dates. Be sure to share it with your school administrators! 

Your district (or school, if not part of a district) cannot apply until your team is registered for the season, so please get registered right away.
  • Please remember that ALL of your FIRST teams, from FLL Jr through FRC, go on one single application
  • Be sure to wait until ALL of your teams are registered and included on the application before submitting.
Highlights for FLL teams:
  • Increased coach stipend to $1,000, cap of one per building.
  • Increased rookie team grant to $450; veteran team grant remains at $200.

FIRST in Michigan Rookie Grant 

The intent of the FiM FLL Rookie Team grant is to provide one time funding to a school or youth enrichment 501c3 organization to establish a new upper elementary school team (which includes a team number and Kit of Parts) that is then "owned" by the team's affiliated entity (school/501c3) for reuse year to year. The grant will reimburse up to $810 for the registration fee and Mindstorms EV3 robot kit purchased through the FIRST team dashboard for additional teams at a school. (If you have veteran teams, you must register them before applying for a grant for a new rookie team.) You will need your team and school information and your purchase receipt when you apply. In order to streamline the grant paying process this year, the application works for either FLL or FTC teams; read carefully to fill in all the FLL portions.

Common errors which delay reimbursement:
  • Uploaded file is not properly labeled with team number.
  • Application does not list correct permanent team number (5 digits starting with 3 or 4)
  • Team does not yet have two screened coaches
  • Team profile does not list your school or organization affiliation
  • 'Name on check' field is an individual's name.
  • Veteran teams at school or organization are not yet registered
You can find the application form here: FIRST in Michigan Team Grant Application.  

Ford  Motor Co. Employee Mentored Team Grants

FIRST teams (Jr.FLL/FLL/FTC/FRC) that have a Ford Motor Co. employee as an active team mentor can apply for a Ford FIRST Robotics team grant. The grant amount for FLL teams that meet the criteria is $200. The grant is open and will close in a few weeks. The application will be available on the Ford Motor Co. STEAM website:
http://www.stem.ford.com/STEM/RoboticsOverview. Please review the FAQs on the grant.

Additional Teams

If you want to start an additional team at your school, or you want to start an FTC team for the students graduating from your FLL teamsthis is the year to do itas our rookie grants overlap with an increased amount of MDE funding If you know a local school interested in starting a team, please share this information with them and have them contact me. Schools can also directly contact the Michigan FTC director Tammy Damrath at michiganftc@gmail.com for help in starting FTC teams. (Unlike FLL, some FTC grants must be applied for before teams register, so it's important to contact Tammy before registering an FTC team.)