Category Archives for Coachs Corner

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2018 LEGO Robotics Camp

LEGO Robotics Camp

ACME ROBOTICS (8367) is planning to offer a LEGO Robotics camp again in summer 2018. We are in the planning stages for the camp, but we have opened up the camp waiting list and you can sign up now to get on the waiting list and be informed first about the details.

boy with robot

To signup for the waiting list, simply send an email to:

Full details are on the 2018 LEGO Robotics Camp page.

The camp structure will likely be similar to last summer. A 5 day camp (half days), somewhere in Grass Valley or Nevada City CA. Cost will be similar to last year (~$125 per camper). We are also going to reduce the number of campers per robotics kit to enhance the experience for the campers (based on feedback from last year).

Campers will learn how to build and program a LEGO Mindstorm-based robot and then create a robot to compete in a competition at the end of the week. We want to encourage the creation of FIRST LEGO LEAGUE robotics teams at all of the various local elementary and middle schools next fall, so this will be a great way to learn about LEGO Mindstorms and see if robotics competition is something you'd like to experience!

ACME Robotics also recruited two attendees from the 2017 LEGO Robotics camp to join the ACME team. So it's also a great way to check out the ACME team and determine if you'd like to join us next season!

Sponsor the camp!

Local businesses: We are offering an opportunity to sponsor the camp and help defray the costs (and reduce the camper fees). If you'd like to discuss sponsorship opportunities, send an email to or contact Mike Oitzman (email below)

Summer LEGO Robotics camp

We've been working hard to organize a robotics camp this summer and things are finally coming together! We are going to run a week long camp which will model a mini FIRST LEGO League (FLL) season and let kids in Nevada County experience an exciting STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) camp.

Build the best robot!

If you are curious what it's like to be on a  FIRST LEGO LEAGUE team (or thinking about starting a team) then this camp is for you! We will use the actual Mindstorms robot, field elements, and rules from the FLL 2016 "Animal Allies" season as the basis of the robotics challenge during camp.

We'll divide all of the camp participants up into 4 or 5 teams and each team will have an ACME Robotics Team Member as a coach/mentor. For the first four days of the camp, the participants will learn how to build and program a LEGO Mindstorms robot. The campers will learn about the rules for and challenge missions for the competition. On the last day of camp we'll run a scrimmage on the competition field, where the teams will compete to be the winning team!! 

The participants will also get the chance to drive the ACME Robotics robot from this last season and try their hand at scoring the most balls in a 1 minute period!

The ACME Robotics (#8367) robot from the 2016 season.

Parents: Please know that this is our inaugural attempt to run a summer robotics camp for kids in Nevada County. We'll be using high school age camp counselors and mentors (from ACME Robotics) to guide the kids through the week long robot build session. There will be adult supervision present for the camp. However, we'll be learning along the way about how to effectively run a program like this. We expect that your child will have a great experience with ACME, but please bear with us as we work through all the details to pull this event together! Our expected outcome is a fun filled week of LEGO Mindstorms and robotics, plus a taste of a FIRST LEGO League competition.

Gracious Professionalism

Throughout the camp, we'll teach the kids the principles of FIRST, including "Gracious Professionalism". Watch the video below for an introduction to Gracious Professionalism.

For more information, check out the 2017 Robotics Camp information page on our site.

If you have any questions, please email us at:

FIRST and FIRST LEGO League are a trademarks of FIRST

LEGO and Mindstorms are trademarks or copyrights of the LEGO Group

All rights are reserved by the trademark owners and used here for the purposes of education and furthering the mission of FIRST.

Team members at the NorCal 2017 championships

Coach’s Corner

I have to tell you that I couldn't be prouder of this group of kids on the team this year. ACME Robotics is in it's third year, and I've have been fortunate to watch the team grow up over the last three years and mature into a real contender this season. Along the way, these kids have learned so much about themselves and working as a team. Oh yeah, and a little bit about how to build a competitive robot...

I love FIRST ​primarily because of how it's organized to teach the kids about life skills and how to be successful in life (and business) while doing it in the context of a fun, engaging activity like robotics. When I hear complaints from the team member that "there isn't enough time to get that done...", I remind them that this is exactly what working on a real life project is like. You'll never have enough time, materials and money to do exactly what you want, so you need to figure out how to compromise to make the best that you can with the resources you have by a specific date.

FIRST Robotics is now my favorite sport.

Alicia Brott 
ACME Robotics Parent                 

We are now at a point in the season that we've never been before. We're headed to the FIRST FTC Western Region Championships in a few weeks. But I have a lot of confidence in this team this season. They are now steely veterans. We have a few things to polish before we head to Tacoma, but I know that we'll be ready.

Kudos to our mentors and sponsors

I wanted to extend a shout out to my fellow mentor and coach Michael Lewis, who joined us late last season and is finishing his rookie season as a mentor. Michael brings a different set of skills and engineering experience to the team, and I think that our success this season is a result of his influence and leadership. In fact, FIRST robotics is so infectious that Michael's wife Stephanie Lewis has decided to join us on the mentor team, and help us prepare for the next level of competition. Stephanie is a powerhouse on her own as she mentors the local Girls Who Code Nevada County Club.

I also want to extend a huge hug to all of our sponsors this season, because we couldn't have done this with out them. We're an independent team and therefore we don't receive any money from any school. ​

Three people who especially stand out are Gary Apple, Dan Castles and Tyler Green. We're fortunate to have Gary Apple as a friend of the team. Gary is a retired engineer and artist who built (and sold) a highly successful business. I couldn't think of a better role model to engage with the kids than Gary. Gary has been more than gracious in extending help, time and the use of his incredible machine shop to help us implement the kids design for custom parts which were beyond their skill set to build. Gary is patient and an excellent teacher. Thank you Gary!

Dan Castles has been a supporter since day one. With the excitement of the past week, and our advancement to the Western Regionals, Dan and the employees at Telestream have once again dug deep to help support us​ monetarily in getting to the next level. Thanks once again to Dan and everyone at Telestream for your unwavering support. You guys rock!

A new friend of the team this season is Tyler Green. Tyler is a long time friend of Michael Lewis, and Tyler is also an engineer at Autometrix (one of our sponsors).​ Tyler has gone above and beyond this season to help us. He donated the use and materials on his personal 3D printer to help print our custom particle launcher wheels, just in time for the NorCal Championships last weekend. The new launcher wheel design is a key part of what made the robot competitive. Thank you Tyler for supporting the team.

Mentors needed:

In conclusion, I want to throw this out there: If you are a local engineer, skilled machinist or electronics/computer guru who'd like to inspire some amazing kids, then I'd like to challenge you to consider joining us next season on the ACME Robotics mentor team. To learn more, reach out to me: mike.oitzman AT

I am also in the early stages of creating a non-profit organization with the mission of funding and supporting local FIRST robotics teams in Nevada County. I am looking for motivated individuals to join the board. The organization is called STEAM Engine. If you are interested in supporting the growth of robotics in Nevada County, please reach out to me.