We spent the whole day today at Mentor Graphics near Portland watching the kids' team compete in a Lego robotics competition. They've been working up to this for months, and the competition is about more than just robotics. They would be judged on their robot's performance against nine challenges on a course on a table (within 2.5 minutes), but they would also be judged on a research project and presentation on a subject in the field of nanotechnology, as well as on technical knowledge, sophistication of robot design and programming, and teamwork.
Our kids' team was one of the younger ones there. The competition is technically for 9 - 14 year olds in this division, but our team was comprised of members from 7 - 11 years old. Despite being younger, mostly new to this competition, and without the resources of a sponsoring school, their team managed to come in 5th overall in the robotics portion of the competition (they get points for the tasks they are able to complete with the robot). They also received nothing but "Excellent" scores in their research project and presentation, they literally could not have scored any higher! Best of all, they won the overall award for Teamwork, something this competition takes very seriously. Considering that I had a pair of siblings working together on the team, I consider this high honors indeed. They were judged highly on teamwork because they worked so well together, but also because they helped another team with programming their robot on one of the tasks that our team had already completed. They were also very outgoing and friendly to the other teams, wishing them well and shaking their hands, displaying respect and good sportsmanship.
I could not be prouder of all they have accomplished. More photos of the entire day's events to come!