Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lego Robotics!

I've probably mentioned it somewhere in the last couple of months, but I'm coaching the kids' Lego Robotics team for the first time this year. Last year, they had a great time with the months of teamwork and then the big competition (which is really for fun, not seriously competitive for them).
Their coach from last year moved away, so I took it on this year and that certainly has made me appreciate all of the work the coach did last year! I've been meaning to write about it for awhile but... I've been too busy!

All in all, the Lego FIRST League competitions are an excellent experience. They stress teamwork, "gracious professionalism", honoring the process over the end-product, and having the kids do all the work. So the coach literally can't even make a suggestion as to how they should do something (which is very hard for this engineering brain of mine to keep in mind!)

Our team has six kids, ages 8 to 14. Two girls and six boys. I am constantly impressed by their abilities to work hard as a team, put in a ton of effort, and come up with creative solutions. The robotics challenge this year was exceedingly difficult - an order of magnitude more complex than last years'. On top of that, the kids had to select a public building and perform a utility audit of the building, then research alternative energies and make suggestions on how the building could become more energy-efficient. In addition, they need to present this information in a public forum. They'll be doing that today with a presentation at our public library.

Next week we will go to our competition. They'll have three tries with their robot on the challenge table, they'll present their research project to a panel of judges, face another panel for technical judging, and a third panel for teamwork judging. I have faith that they will all do a terrific job, but I'm not sure if I will survive the day without an anxiety attack. My to-do list to get ready for this event reads about as long as the one before my wedding day (without having to make 500 hors d'oevres however). I have to have robots, spare parts, batteries, cables, connectors, presentation materials, kids, t-shirts, paperwork, parents, folders, nametags, sack lunches, and probably a million other things all in the right places. I remind myself, that just like when I do a triathlon (which is also an equipment-heavy event with complicated timing) that it will all be fun and totally worth it once its underway. Wish us luck!

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