Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Coverage in Local Newspaper

Rachel was interviewed by a reporter from the Bernardsville News. An article should appear
this week or next week. Please look for it. For those who live out of town, I will post a link to the article online when it appears.
I was proud when Rachel told the reporter that she was looking forward to meeting more girls who were interested in robotics, as she is the only girl on her team. I guess that my feminist leanings have rubbed off on her a bit!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fundraising continues

We are continuing our fundraising efforts for the trip, which begins on June 29th. We held a
cupcake sale after church today, and the money raised will be very helpful to cover our expenses.
To everyone who contributed, thank you! Your generosity was amazing. We hope that you
enjoyed the cupcakes. Members of the Church of the Redeemer in Morristown are very
generous folks.

We are still looking for some larger corporate donations, so if you have any corporate contacts who might be interested, please let us know.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

More local news coverage and RoboeXpo

Here is another news story about the RoboDragons:

Here is an article that describes the robotics expo being held tomorrow by Storming Robots, the center that sponsors Rachel and Matt's teams. Rachel's team's rescue robot will be shown, while Matt's group is demonstrating a robot that uses GPS. If you are in the area tomorrow between 1 and 4 p.m., please drop by.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Graz and language-learning adventures

We are reading up on Graz, Austria in preparation for our trip. It is the second largest city in Austria, and has six universities. The competition will be held at the Stadthalle Graz, which looks like a large exhibition hall/convention center.

Rachel and I met with my friend Veronica, who travels to Germany several times every year. She gave us some tips for international travel, and described the culture of Austria. We have been listening to German language tapes, and we will at least be able to introduce ourselves, know when we are being asked to show our passport, and get a taxi to our hotel. Veronica recommended trying the sauna at the hotel. In this part of Europe, one can get a degree or certification in sauna administration, as the proper combination of temperature, humidity and fragrant oils is part science, part art.

Guten Abend. I just can't get used to the way that all the nouns are capitalized in German!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

More about the competition, and a photo of the team.

RoboCupJunior is an education-focused robotics competition for primary and secondary school students. Teams design, construct, and program autonomous robots to complete a variety of challenges; including soccer, rescue, and dance.

The Storming Robots team will be competing in the Rescue challenge, in which each robot must navigate through a recreated disaster scenario to identify victims quickly and accurately. The robots are equipped with a number of sensors to allow them to interact with their environment, include ultra-sonic sensors to identify obstacles and walls and multiple light sensors for identifying paths or victims. For the international event, the students will be adding an accelerometer to determine incline and an on-board vision subsystem.

In addition to the engineering challenge of constructing the robot, the students face the complex task of programming their robot to interact autonomously with the disaster environment, requiring an understanding of the fundamentals of computer science. This includes complex multitasking and sensor feedback controls. (from the press release about RoboCup 2009,
Elizabeth Mabrey, 2009).

Friday, June 5, 2009

RoboDragons going to Austria

Welcome readers! This blog will describe my daughter Rachel's journey with her robotics team, the RoboDragons. This first post may be redundant for some of you, but future posts will give updates on our fundraising efforts. Once we are on our trip, we will be posting updates from the tournament in Graz, Austria.

The RoboDragons scored highest in the nation in their event, rescue mission, in the primary division (age 14 and under) of RoboCup Junior. The team has been asked to represent the United States at the international tournament, RocoCup 2009 ( in Graz, Austria at the end of June 2009. Rachel and her teammates feel privileged to have been given this honor and opportunity.

The team arose from a weekly roboclub meeting at Storming Robots Technology Center, a robotics studio in Branchburg, New Jersey.

Here is a photo of the rescue robot. The reddish glow is from the light sensors, used to track the line and identify "victims" (the body outline ahead of the robot). Gears on the side allowed the robot to ascend a twenty-five degree angled ramp in order to rescue more victims.

The team must pay its own way to Austria, and team members are responsible for their travel costs, lodging, meals and registration fees. To fund participation in the international competition, we are engaging in fundraising. Unfortunately, time is short and we must quickly raise the money needed to travel to Austria. We estimate that the costs for each team member will be about $2000.

We hope that some of you are able to help Rachel and the RoboDragons to represent the United States at RoboCup 2009. We understand that times are tough, and any donations would be greatly appreciated. A Paypal account has been set up and can be accessed at, using the email address

We would also appreciate corporate support, if you have corporate contacts. Although Storming Robots Technology Center is not a public school or a 501(c)(3) entity, the center is a big supporter of public technology education and does provide programming to home schools and public schools. Support for the RoboCup team also will not provide any financial benefit or profit to the center.