Wednesday, August 25, 2010

To the Future and Beyond...Team Just Ducky

Today, we aimed for the Sky and we don't think we missed, we were just off course today. We were disappointed, our robot, EPIC couldn't show you its' best three minutes of the past hour.

Our technical frustration shortly gave way to our ultimate understanding that overall Team Just Ducky has given its' finest to this competition for the past three months. The team developed skills beyond those originally anticipated. This MoonBots challenge provided the unique opportunity to further our enthusiasm into the STEM world.

We thank you many times over for all the efforts of those in front and behind the many facets of the MoonBots camera. We appreciate this wonderful joint program geared to the common goal of inspiring our next generation of rocket scientists headed toward Earth's off shore island. We were awed by the 3,023 total hit views to our Team Video Blogs that we humbly leave to our country's space heritage. To the Future and Beyond.... Thank You!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thank You!!!!!

The Lunar Welcome Mat

Thank You From The Just Ducky Parents

The MoonBots competition has been an incredible, hands-on learning, STEM experience for our teenagers during a time we now fondly refer to as “The Summer of The MoonBots”. Lunar X Prize Foundation and LEGO Mindstorms opened a whole new world of exploration for our team.

We have listened intently to our government highlighting the “Educate to Innovate” campaign. We don’t know when this STEM initiative will reach our Midwestern farms and suburban side streets. But this program when implemented seems to focus on older students in high school and college. By this time it is too late for most students. We echo Dr. Bobby Braun’s thoughts in his August 9, 2010 open letter to college students: “Good systems engineers are not born; they are created over time”.

As 9th and 10th graders, our children are eager to develop their engineering and research skills to the next level (FTC) if they were to win a kit. With each competition, we watched our team tackle difficult engineering problems and solve real world issues. They worked with intense determination and energy. The MoonBots challenge launched these young minds into the future galaxy of endless creativity on their way to becoming the problem solvers of tomorrow.

As parents we want a better world for our kids. We want to encourage their ability to understand our world and beyond always. Thank you to all the sponsors and efforts of Google Lunar X Prize MoonBots for answering our educational call with this lunar spark. We are the parents of future global thinkers, inventors and aerospace engineers. MoonBots opened an important door for our teens. We will responsibly keep the door open, the welcome mat out and the Just Ducky cupcakes baking in our Midwest ovens J

Final Blog from Team Just Ducky Members

It is three FULL Moons later and we once again find ourselves racing to the finishing line, this time to the ticking time clock of MoonBots Phase 2. The bright Green Corn Moon of our August sky lies more than 252,000 miles away. This is where we set out to explore in earnest. We had some failures, some success and lots of fun. We learned more than we thought we would. We aimed for the sky and tried not to miss. This glowing moon is within our grasp. We want to continue our lunar journey. Thank you to the Lunar X Prize Foundation, LEGO Mindstorm and all of the sponsors for challenging the skills of our 9th and 10th grade minds. We tried our best and look forward to our EPIC robot run this week.

Homemade Space Fuel

Ducks who like cupcakes? Yes, that is us here at Team Just Ducky taking a break with our official space food. With each delicious bite of home baked goodness we are energized to keep tackling our MoonBots challenges and obstacles as we forge ahead toward the finish line of Phase 2 .

We will remember to pack a Midwestern bakers dozen in the Lego basket for our EPIC robot as energy to survive those long and cold lunar nights and install a program to leave a crumb trail ( Lunar artifacts) leading back home (Base) as a back up plan to the mission video. Perhaps the extra sweetness, creamy butter and frosting sprinkles will become ‘ Legendary’ to our Space Heritage.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010


We decided we had given The Tree holding our Legendary rocket section hostage ample time to give this rocket section back to us after the initial refusal to give back our rocket and parachute .

With our Team Just Ducky cooperative attitude we waited patiently for the natural winds and rains to persuade The Tree to do the right thing. However bargaining to resolution needed to be stepped up as our ongoing Midwestern humidity and heat could deteriorate the rocket body beyond reuse.

Of the numerous negotiating options suggested to us we chose the appearance of our farm chainsaw in hand in the hopes of ending with a win/win solution. Out of the woods appeared fawn twins as neutral mediators and the negotiations began.

As of this writing The Tree lowered the parachute several branch levels down as it showed the red parachute smiling against the setting sun. Compromise is a sign of strength not a weakness. We are confident all will end well as we keep learning the process of bargaining to satisfaction for all involved parties.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Final Cut Express

I am involved in the production and editing of our "ducumentary". The long weeks, days and hours is exhausting. After all of the hard work we now have 30 seconds of great film. With only 4o hours left, we will complete the last 4 minutes 30 seconds of our documentary.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hot off the Presses

Wednesday, August 18

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Preparing For My Future

The Moobots Challenge has pushed our team’s current knowledge to the limits and forced us to expand our (lunar) horizon.

Recently I was given the opportunity and privilege to visit a well-known and respected engineering school, Milwaukee School of Engineering. While my dad was working, the college students offered me a tour of the campus. My tour at Milwaukee School of Engineering allowed me to see science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) put to use. I was inspired by the student’s enthusiasm and aspirations while working on their “The SuperMileage Vehicle “(SMV) competition that is sponsored by Society of Automotive Engineers. The team was working on a vehicle to get the best miles per gallon at the same time meeting all the safety requirements. Their goal is to build a fuel-efficient car to get over 1,000 miles to the gallon. They also showed me SolidWorks 3D software program that helps them design the car. Given the chance to work with STEM and industry in research/development of new technologies is thrilling and valuable.

The link below is a link to learn more about their SMV.

The MSOE college students were positive role models for me. It was obvious it is a great engineering school and they all have a bright future ahead of them. The school has tough standards yet the students were passionate to participate in their chosen engineering field. This was a great learning experience that I wouldn’t have had without the Moonbot Challenge and I certainly never would have experienced in a textbook. Thank you MSOE and Moonbots!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Members Out of Town..

Our team is scattered around the U.S. taking a ten day vacation. When we return we will have only four days to finish our programming and our duckumentary. It is safe to say, we need a four night sleepover in order to finish strong, requiring several snacks, caffeine, and moonbot cupcakes.

Team Just Ducky is honored to be featured on GeekDad Blog

Team Just Ducky is honored to be featured on the GeekDad Blog.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pay It Forward with Moon Beams

Lessons in Life: Everything we have learned we learned from someone, whether it was an adult, a mentor, a friend, a sibling, a teacher, a TV commercial , a You Tube video, an actor in a movie , etc. etc. Team Just Ducky believes knowledge is something not to waste and we believe in paying forward what we have learned from our robotic journeys.

On Tuesday, Aug 3rd, members of Team Just Ducky were asked to help the 4th graders at St. Ambrose School in Woodbury, MN program their robot for their upcoming FLL practice. Earlier in the summer, Team Just Ducky met with the parents and kids of St. Ambrose to show them their FLL experiences and how much fun learning can be. Shortly after this presentation, the St. Ambrose team was formed and they are now hard at work figuring out the many circles of robot programming. Just Ducky member, Steffan, got a huge laugh from seeing the youngsters hysterically laughing when he programmed the robot to do just that, twirl about in seemingly endless circles.

Team members have been following our belief in always sharing our knowledge we have gained throughout our FLL experiences. With each of the presentations we have done and will continue to do we always keep in mind to encourage all young minds to think out of their usual box and have fun learning the many lessons provided in these FLL and MoonBots challenges. It has been requested that we set up our challenge mat once again to example to the fairgoers of the upcoming MN State Fair in St.Paul, MN just how much fun our robotic learning can be. We look forward to paying if forward with moonbeams.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


-Single Motor Multi-Action Arm
- 4WD missing basket

Thanks to Karen Pavlicin, who has given us full permission to use any of her songs for our blogs and documentary!!!!!

Click here for Karen's website---> Link to Website

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jim Flis comments on Rocket Negotiation Strategy

Jim Flis* of rocket company, FlisKits , Inc. sends Lars his email response to our Legendary Epic Rocket launch video blog.

“ I looked at your Just Ducky team page and video. Very cool J Man, what I could have done if I had access to this kind of technology and programs when I was a kid! It’s wonderful to see you getting so involved and working so hard. I loved the suspense aspect of the slow-motion footage with the voice over commentary like a real NASA launch followed by the humor of the tree negotiation. HINT: Go back and negotiate while holding a chainsaw. Trees tend to be much more agreeable in such situations..LOL

Keep up the great work and special congrats !

Warm regards,


* Jim Flis started his rocket company FlisKits, Inc. in 2002 after working 25 years as Principle Engineer at Digital Equipment Corp. He was following his dream that started when he built his first Estes Sky Hook rocket in 1963. In 1980 he started the rocket club, The Goddard Society, and founded the New England Model Rocketry Convention in 1985. Besides keeping up his growing rocket business, he teaches 4 days a week with his local New Hampshire Boys and Girls Club after school programs offering dozens of classes making learning fun! Learn more at .

Epic Problems Solved

For the past few weeks we’ve been working everyday for lengthy hours. We have run into a few snags, starting with programming and the new advanced sensors we ordered. First we started with the gyro sensor. We contacted a local programmer and asked for some help. With his help we understood the basic math needed to program the sensor; however, we decided not to use the gyro sensor because the offset was proving to be more difficult than we anticipated. So we replaced the gyro with the compass sensor. We were able to write a program that allowed us to point our robot accurately, anywhere we choose. We have made many prototypes for the robot arm. We encountered problems while trying to pick up the rings with several of our arm prototypes. We could solve the problem when the rings were facing one known direction; however, when changing the orientation of the ring it added more of a challenge. While experiencing frustration we integrated humor to reduce our stress level.

Click here for Link---> Youtube Video

We have finally finalized an arm, solved a difficult engineering task that can pick up the rings regardless of the orientation. This is a big milestone for us and deserves a celebration. We have now successfully gathered the first two water/ice rings from the crater and working hard to gather all the rings.

Nantucket Sound Wins Eau Claire County Fair

Lars enters the FlisKit rocket he made for the Eau Claire, WI County 4-H Fair. It is the a lighthouse titled

“Nantucket Sound” which is a 2009 NARCON Commerative Kit in the Robert H. Goddard Historical Series. It is a whimsical lighthouse rocket reflecting the beautiful New England setting. It is 12.67” in length, and 5.02” in diameter with a fin span of 7.85” and weight of 4.12 oz . The rockets uses a parachute recovery system. Lars has painted it per the design specifications rather than using the paper shroud skins. A C11-3 to an E9-4 engine is recommended for launch although Lars will keep this in his personal not-for launch rocket collection.

On Wednesday , July 28th, 2010 ,the aerospace 4-H judges awarded Lars’ rocket a Blue Ribbon and the special distinction of selecting his “Nantucket Sound” lighthouse rocket to advance onto the WI State Fair competition 8-2-2010.

Jim Flis of FlisKits, Inc sent Lars this email message “ Congratulations on your blue ribbon! That is fantastic! I am STUNNED with how well that came out and knowing that you PAINTED the spiral pattern on the body shroud is simply amazing. You did an incredible job and should be VERY proud of yourselfJ Best of luck and success in your endevours! “

“History in Our Hands"

Click here for video link---> Youtube Video

At our post rocket launch cupcake meeting, Team Just Ducky spent some down time reading what we now realize as awesome archives of the NASA space program.

Last February, Lars’ uncle, Tom Kewan, had dropped off a 12” x 12” old box filled with memories of his youthful interest in rockets and anything related to space and the NASA space program. Lars immediately started thoughts of using these as a 4-H project on a history of rockets , space and robots to be entered in the July Eau Claire County Fair . Little did Tom know his memories became a history lesson 45 years later for Team Just Ducky as they progress through their educational quest of space travel to the moon and all things lunar in this Phase 2 of the Google Lunar X Prize Foundation Moonbots challenge.

Bit by bit, the members of Team Just Ducky carefully unfolded newspaper clippings dating from 1965 to 1972 chronicling the USA and world race to the Moon, beginning with news of the first manned space mission, Gemini 3 to Apollo 17, the last mission to land men on the Moon. We all took turns reading these headlines from the Eau Claire , WI Daily Telegram and Milwaukee Journal piecing the clippings on the living room floor to form a time line of man’s attempt to land on and explore our Earth’s one and only Moon. Forty five years and a generation apart, these headlines told us the story of the pioneering spirits of these early astronauts through the trials, the failed attempts, the successful launches and landings and the grim reminder of the human cost of space exploration detailed in the tragic Apollo 1 fire killing the three astronauts on their launch pad.

We read with interest each story but were also fascinated to learn that even grown ups in the real world have technical failures maybe of different proportions than finding our Legendary payload and parachute stuck high up in a tree but problems turned into lessons. Gemini 3 fell 60 miles short of splash down target because of incorrect calculations in the wind tunnel tests, the pilot of Gemini 4 had trouble closing his hatch after taking the first space stroll because of unforeseen friction on the metal parts which were eliminated for future missions, Gemini 5 had problems with a broken heater in its power producing fuel cells. We read about weather and technical delays . We were intrigued to learn that the Apollo 15 astronauts for 6 ½ hours drove their $8 million lunar Rover 1 even though its front wheel steering did not work making due by steering with the rear wheel apparatus to explore the lunar surface of Hadley Base. We were quietly awed when reading Apollo 15 Astronaut David Scott’s words upon landing on the dusty lunar surface: “As I stand out here in the wonders of the unknown of Hadley, I sort of realize there is a fundamental truth to our nature: Man must explore, and this is exploration at its greatest.”

Forty five years later, it may be the hands of different teenagers holding these space stories, but they are the hands of holding space interest in their minds and souls. Let’s race to the moon and back to continue this history we were holding in our hands! Go Team Just Ducky, keep on learning!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Legendary Launches, With an Epic Payload

As was mentioned in an earlier post, our rocket Legendary was launched. To see it's mission watch the Youtube video below.

Click here--->Link to Video Entry on Youtube

The blastoff was successful, and Legendary cleared the Christmas trees!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Legendary Rocket Launches "EPIC" on Friday

Press Release Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Team Just Ducky has announced it will attempt the maiden launch of their rocket launch system, THE LEGENDARY on Friday, July 30th, 2010, providing optimal weather conditions in Eleva, WI. The LEGENGARY is the launch system for their Mindstorms Robotic Lunar Lander, EPIC. Team Just Ducky has programmed EPIC to complete the lunar missions paralleling the lunar missions of the Google Lunar X Prize Foundation challenge competition.

EPIC has a specially constructed robotic arm that will successfully collect from the lunar surface the Helium 3 fuel source for providing power to our Earth for thousand of years and water components used for sustaining life and extracting hydrogen for future rocket fueling.

Among the challenge missions, EPIC will visit the “Peak of Eternal Light” to survive the severe temperature fluctuations ranging between -200*F of the deep moon shadows to the lunar surface temperatures of 280* F. The future space stations will be powered by the conversion of constant solar sunlight via special solar panels for abundant efficient energy for the many uses by all mankind of the future generations.

Estimated launch time: 2:00 pm CST

Launch location: Lowes Creek Tree Farm, Eleva, WI

Mission specialists: Team Just Ducky and friends

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thunderstorms to Hay, they still mean one thing... A Full Moon!

Tonight, Sunday the 25th of July, the sky will reveal the full moon along with the constellations surrounding it. The moon is known by many names throughout the world, but some of its more well known names are the Hay Moon, the Buck Moon, and the Thunder Moon. It is known for the Thunder Moon, due to the thunderstorms we receive in July.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Perfect Arm

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Make the Most of It, by Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong Commander of Apollo 11

First astronaut to walk on the Moon.

“That’s one small step for man, a giant leap for mankind” July 20, 1969.

“As Americans, we are certainly fortunate. We take for granted many advantages that are not available in much of the world. Among most important is equal opportunity for a good education.

We are permitted to choose our occupation and get a good start toward the knowledge and training necessary to pursue that career. Make the most of it!

We live in excelling times. New ideas emerge every day. None of us can know what the most interesting new developments and consequent career opportunities will be available in the years ahead. But we all have the opportunity to be as ready as we can for that time.” -Neil A. Armstrong in a letter to Neil Armstrong Elementary School

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Award Winning Author, Karen Pavlicin

The Documentary research is going well. After researching online, we decided it was time to call in the experts. Graciously, Karen Pavlicin met with three of our team members, since two others were on vacation. Karen Pavlicin, a local author (including Surviving Deployment; Life After Deployment; Perch, Mrs. Sackets, Crow’s Nest) and songwriter (with her own album,“little bit of faith”) shared her experiences as a successful writer.After talking with her, we gained a whole new insight into the world of imagination for creating our documentary.Bursting with new ideas we continue to film and piece our story together.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

July 8, 2010

Mission Headquarters, Woodbury , MN:

July 7, 2010

Communication had been received that our long awaited Lunar Lego kit had been shipped July 6, 2010 from Billund, Denmark enroute to Minneapolis, MN. Emails, texts, and phone calls flew back and forth as team members were notified and we all watched the tracking information as to the next scanned site of Team Just Ducky’s Lunar components described as “3 pieces” shipped via DHL. Everyone tried to plan their activities in anticipation of gathering to open our boxes!

July 8, 2010

Communication received that our 3 pieces were in the USA and making its way across the States to the Midwest traveling the estimated 4, 164 miles ( thanks to Lars’ Google search) to our Woodbury, MN Headquarters and were “out for delivery” with usual delivery slated up to 8:00 pm in our Central Time zone. Team member updates were posted throughout the day. As the evening passed without sight of the delivery truck, Lars in Wisconsin decided to join his cross country group for their 7:00 run , Jacob’s family continued their nearby errands (phone readily available) , Mary Rose and Steffan stayed glued to the front window, ( Jake’s family was out of text range while in Canada) and Mission Headquarters was likened to “the night before Christmas” with visions of sugarplums ( Lunar Lego pieces) dancing in our heads.

Lunar energy exploded at 7:11 pm CT as the delivery truck pulled up the driveway to be met by our cameras and excited chatter! “I’ve never had my picture taken before” were the kind words of the surprised truck driver! Little did he realize the precious cargo in his hands. Thanks to cellular phones , Wisconsin was notified at 7:12 pm as was Jacob’s family that Team Just Ducky’s 3 pieces had arrived!

Logging unto Skype at 8:00 pm CT, Lars joined Steffan and Mary Rose in the excitement. Very much like Christmas morning with wrapped presents beneath the tree, each shipped piece was examined while everyone took turns guessing what was in each piece before Jacob arrived at 8:15pm.

Our opening ceremony began with a long distance toast with soda filled fluted glasses in Minnesota and and orange juice in Wisconsin as we each said a few words about our team friendship and journey ahead!


Monday, July 5, 2010

Working in CAD is such a Joy...Stick

Team Just Ducky's Original Accelerometer Joy Stick. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

National Space Policy

Just Ducky Team members will be spending our national holiday by reading the National Space Policy of the United States of America.

Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Totally “EPIC” High Tech Kids Features our Team’s “Moonbots Journey”

High Tech Kid's features our team's journey.


High Tech Kids' Mission

We inspire kids to BUILD confidence, CREATE opportunities and THRIVE in the 21st century. High Tech Kids is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that supports Minnesota FIRST LEGO League teams, coaches and volunteers. We work hard with the help of more than 700 volunteers to offer high energy, fun, team-based programs and competitions that celebrate science and technology. Kids learn how to work together and solve real-world problems. To support High Tech Kids is to invest in our children, to share our passion, and to inspire these future innovators, leaders, collaborators, and problem solvers for the 21st century.

High Tech Kids now serves over 3,000 kids across Minnesota each year. Since our inception in 1999 we have helped over 18,000 students discover the fun in science and technology.

Video Entry 3: Perfecting the Little Things

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

Good early morning. The cloudy skies from the late night thunderstorms here is WI are hiding our views of the 54% lunar eclipse. We are turning to our GOOGLE sky map app on our DROID cell phone to watch this event as it approaches moonset.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Video Entry 2

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Honored to Continue the Journey...

Our team’s anticipation was intense as we watched the computer screen throughout the day and night on Monday, waiting for the results. We knew that with all the extremely talented teams from around the world, this would be a tough competition. Judging must have been difficult due to the amazing entries.

At 11:00 p.m. we were glued to the computer monitor as the teams moving onto phase ll appeared. When we saw our name on the screen, our cheering could be heard by our neighbors and the man on the moon.

Thank You,

Team Just Ducky

Craft Name: Epic

Friday, May 28, 2010

Last Blog of Team Just Ducky of Phase One: FLY ME TO THE MOON

In these final hours and minutes of this Google Lunar X Prize Challenge… our team is using the energy of this month’s Full FLOWER Moon to beam our ideas across the Wisconsin and Minnesota State lines to gallantly complete the mission requirements of Phase 1. Here in WI we are humming the words to the 1954 Bart Howard song “Fly Me to the Moon “ to our Minnesota friends and the team robot, EPIC.

Hope you all join in as our team robot sings along with Frank Sinatra… “Fly Me to the Moon, Let me play among the Stars” ….. I am ready to BLAST OFF to Phase 2 with a countdown to June……

Thanks for the challenge Google Lunar X Prize Foundation and Lego Mindstorms!

******The total amount of views for our Team Video is 215!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Full Moon

Team members are observing the beautiful full moon tonight… visible here in WI and MN

What would a compass on the moon point to?

Dear Dr. Stern,

I am student teaching in an 8th grade science class. We have been studying the earth's magnetic force, and the question was asked by one of the students, Lars, "What would a compass on the moon point to?" I know that the moon has no internal magnetic force, but does have some areas on the surface that are magnetized. Would a compass point to these? Thank you for your help with this question.


Your information about the moon is correct, but your students should bear in mind two points. One, we are used to regarding the compass needle as a sensitive instrument. It may be so, compared to other everyday indicators of magnetic forces, but space-borne electronic magnetometers, such as have mapped magnetism in space, are many thousands of times more sensitive. I would suspect that the weak magnetization of some areas on the moon is not nearly strong enough to move the needle of an ordinary compass, even in the weaker gravity.

You can find more about such magnetometers in

Even if the technical description of such instruments is beyond your students, they may be interested in the way they were used by Dr. David Cohen at MIT.

And secondly, the magnetic force, on Earth or on the moon, is usually not horizontal. That is discussed very briefly in
and in more detail at the end of

An ordinary compass only responds to the horizontal part of the force, and in a complicated magnetic field, this can be highly variable--towards magnetized patches, away from them, or neither. I do not have a magnetic map of the moon, but your students may look at one of Mars, which is also magnetized in patches, and appreciably more strongly than the Moon (though it lacks a core field like the Earth's). See map at the very end of
and the link given there (since then that map has been made more accurate).

21. Why do iron filings outline magnetic field lines

Day 13

Added: 1 day ago
From: JustDuckytotheMoon
Views: 155
  • Just Ducky, did a more than a just ducky job on this video. Great video editing and excellent examples. I did not realize all the implications to space research and space travel.
  • This is an "epic"-ly good video.
    Great green-screen use!
  • Great Job Just Ducky!! I love the green screen special effects. Hope you can make it to the moon for all mankind:)