Who are we?
I am a mechanical engineer who has been coaching 9-14 year old students Lego robotics for the last few years. I have been involved in directing the VEX robotics challenge in the Canadian Engineering Competition. I have been involved in many projects since high school with autonomous and tele-oerated robots. I get really involved in the mechanical and electrical side of things, but having knowledge of all the other aspects is important for me too.
I have been specifically involved in an international Lego robotics competitions which uses the standard vinyl game mat with Lego structures built on for challenges. I have experience first hand of the challenges of continuing to engage the kids with new learning after the competition when they already know everything there is to know about the game challenge for that year. The prohibitive costs make it so that it is easier to wait 4 months until the next challenge is revealed rather than continue with the club for the entire year.
What are we offering?
I am offering a cheap painted cardboard game mat with challenges made from cardboard too. The main function of the mat is for the color and light sensor to pick up the lines and to be able to detect it for the different challenges on the board. Regular vinyl mats will cost at least $160 but this will cost around $20 per mat. The cardboard will be soaked in water and heater in order to make it hard enough to provide a steady surface for the Lego robot to drive on. After painting, it will be laminated and this is to increase traction to the wheels. The Cardboard EV3 Game Mat will attempt to recreate the conditions of the vinyl mat but with new and interesting challenges for the students to try out.
The mats will fit on existing 4’x8′ Lego tables that teams already have for the official challenges. It will allow for teams to practice during the off season without needing to buy a $160 mat.
Who are we offering it to?
I am offering it to current Lego robotics teams who need more challenges during the off season to practice. After the competition, they need to wait 4 months until they can get the game mat and challenges for next year’s competition. Usually what happens is that they will choose to not meet for 4 months at all because they do not have any new challenges to do. With our game mat, teams will be able to practice all year around.
The mat is also marketed to young students and their parents who do not have the money to go out and buy an entire challenge set for $200. The brick and associated parts already cost around $700 so they have a tough time trying to tell their parents to spend more money on just one challenge set. With our cheaper challenge set, parents can afford to buy more challenges for their young ones, giving them a challenge that they can spend weeks on to solve.
Why does that person care?
Teams care because this will allow them to have weekly meetings year round which will significantly improve the skill-set of the students in that team. This is turn gives them a better chance of winning the competition. Our set is cheap and this will appeal to team which are often run from donations or registration fees from parents. They already spend a lot of money on registration and parts so this will be a low cost solution to have them engage their students in the off season.
Individual students are because they often spend a lot of money buying the EV3 bricks and associated parts. In order to buy the challenge set, it costs a lot of money for only one challenge game. With our offering, they will be able to get multiple challenges to stay engaged and learn about robotics while having fun.
Our distinctive competencies
I have been in touch with an organizer at FIRST who creates the Lego robotics challenges. He is really interested in my idea and has offered to connect me to another organizer who has connections with the game mat making companies. The ability to get an official FIRST approval on these products will make them popular as thousands of people attend their events and competitions every year. If they see that there is a cheaper and official non competition alternative for the challenge fields, they will chose to buy it so their teams will have more challenges to solve. The ability to get a manufacturing deal with companies who already make the vinyl game mat will be helpful too because I will be able to use some of their resources to mass produce my idea.
The substitutes & alternatives
Current substitutes include the expensive vinyl mat which costs a minimum of $160 or the low quality paper mats, which easily rip up if the wheels turn with too much power on the Lego robot.
Current alternatives include putting tape on the floor or using pain on wood. My product will be more representative of the real game conditions due to the laminated surface and purposeful design. My mat will also have cardboard challenges which can be assembled. This represents the actual competition much more closely than the alternatives.
Our first key person
Our first key person is the children who own a Lego robot set or who are a part of a Lego robot team.
They care because they want to play with robots. They think that robots are very cool and need constant challenges because they enjoy learning about them so much.
Our promise to them is that our challenge board will be entertaining for them to play with and they will be better teammates because of the extra learning they will be doing.
Our second key person
Our second key person is parents of children who are in a Lego robotics team or who have an EV3 set.
They care because they want to foster the curiosity their child has in STEM and robotics and continue using their set for a long time.
Our promise to them is that our challenge set is an affordable way for their children to develop skills and engage in lifelong learning.
Our third key person
Our third key person is the coach of a Lego robotics team.
They care because they want their team to learn and grow even after the 4 month competition season.
Our promise to them is that we will provide a quality game board which will give your team a good look into what the real competition will be like, all while staying within your budget.