Starting Your Club

This page has been established to help guide your instruction.

The Mindstorms NXT software has tutorials which can guide your beginning roboteers. You can obtain the software from Lego Educational via this link for $79.95: Mindstorms NXT Software also once you get your kit you may want to purchase the Educational Resource kit which has several other parts not included in the NXT Educational kit.

Dale Yocum, Head Robotics Coach at Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon has granted us permission to access his site The NXT Tutorial has a wealth of information beyond that which is offered via the NXT Software and it's free.

If your NXT Robot does not have the rechargeable DC lithium ion polymer battery you need to click these links to purchase the Rechargeable Battery and DC Charger which must be ordered seperately. Andy Southwick, shared a instance where his rechargeable battery was non-functional since it was received. He contacted Lego Educational and they shipped him a replacement free of charge.

New Mindstorms NXT 2.1 Robots come with different parts and software extras and unless you request the battery and adapter at the same time you will have to use AA batteries until you can order a rechargeable one. I find it helpful to walk students through the Mindstorms Software that can be found via the link above to initially train your students. Once students are have finished learning the programming on the Mindstorms education software 100 additional programs can be found at NXTPrograms as well as at this Tufts University site.

If you want to extend your club to include new challenges I encourage you to purchase one of the Camp-on-a-Disk programs developed by Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Academy: Deep Space Terraformers, Wilderness Dataloggers, Undersea Aquabots, P.R.O.B.E. Space Adventure @$225.00 each.

If you are dealing with a large group here are some grouping suggestions:

Your builders need to be aware of where parts can be found and should know what different parts are called. Most roboteers lose parts and with robots costing $270 a good builder who can stay neat and organized can save you big bucks. You can obtain free chapters from a couple of NXT Books that cover NXT pieces and building instructions for a dinobot available on the documents page. It is a good idea to assign one to two dependable builders per team, just in case someone is sick during competitions.

Programmers are like the quarterback on a football team. If you have a good programmer on your team you have an excellent chance of doing well during competition. Programmers need to be present whenever your robot is put through its rounds so they can see if and where they need to make adjustments. Computer expertise is not a pre-requisite, but familiarity with the laptop is helpful. While it is a good idea to train someone else to program on every team, it is usually not a good idea to put two programmers on the same team. Too many chiefs...


Your placer plays the second most important role on the team. The placer needs to have a keen eye for details, a good sense of direction and to excel at tedium. So what does a placer do? They place and aim the bot when it begins it's rounds. They touch the bot more than any other team member. A placer and programmer who can communicate well are on a winning team every time. If you are running short on team members builders make good placers as well. Placers like programmers are usually one of a kind and if absent during competition usually spell disaster.

These team members used to be overlooked on most teams prior to 2011, but no longer. Reporters need to be creative thinkers and writers. Reporters write the Essay or Engineering Notebook for the competition, which contribute points to the all-around title. Reporters also carry a camera and write articles to be posted on the campus website. Reporters make everyone look good. Along with their writing duties reporters make probably the most noticeable contribution to the team.-they get to create the team theme. Theme involves costumes, hair styles, make up and your team's attitude during competition. The other job which can help make a big difference is the Recorder. Recorders, like Reporters need to have good writing skills or quick with a voice recorder. The more social the recorder the better. Recorders spend much of their time at competition talking with other teams and learning from their designs and taking pictures. Photographers make good reporter/recorders but photo composition skills can be taught. Contact Yvonne Pena with the Public Information Department. Reporters/Recorders, like positive people, are always the more, the better.

Your webmasters need to be quick with a mouse, because often times websites can time out if information is not entered in a timely manner. This job is usually best done by a quiet and focused student. Webmasters work closely with the Reporters and often get credit for what the reporter does. Webmasters also contribute points toward the all-around title. Two or three webmasters are usually a must to help drive donations.