I'm still trying to wrap my head around this one, but the kids won the robotics tournament yesterday. As in got the champion's award. Wow!
The tournament was very up and down for them. They were the first ones to go through project judging, and the judges seemed kind of "eh", but maybe they were still waking up. Regardless, the kids did great in the project (I think!). For one thing, they memorized all of the lines for their play, and some of them (most especially Asa, the narrator) had a LOT of lines.
Then they went on to technical judging, which I think they really aced. Although they're a pretty young team, they attempted a lot more technical sophistication this year, using sensors, loops, variables, and subroutines in their programs. They all explained themselves very well, and the fact that they each wrote their own programs was a real bonus I think. Mackenzie was able to explain to one of the judges his program that used input from a sensor that fed into a decision tree and executed one of several sub-routines, and I could see that the judge was really impressed.
In teamwork judging, I know they did awesome. It's clear that these kids are all good friends and they work together very well. As always, I am proudest of the fact that they are a great team and are positive to each other and to all the other teams there.
On the robot table, their first run was an unmitigated disaster. I think they scored 20 points, LOL. That's out of the 170 they could get if all of their missions went well. One of Mackenzie's programs that we thought operated within the rules was ruled otherwise by a judge, and a well-meaning volunteer interrupted one of Mikke's programs with a ruling that was then over-ruled by the head judge mid-round. So it was very confusing. Their second round wasn't much better, with Asa's program going haywire for unexplained reasons.
By that time they decided to head to the practice room and re-write some stuff in the 30 minute break between rounds. Mackenzie re-wrote his program to conform to the new interpretation of the rule, and I tried to soothe the kids' ruffled feathers. They felt like things were being changed right out from under them, and I explained that it might not be entirely unintentional. After all, in the real world when you're an engineer you might work on a project for months only to have the marketing team come tell you that due to their latest focus group or marketing survey you now need to rework it an entirely different way, or discard those features and write entirely new ones. It's good for them to be able to quickly re-think their strategies or re-work their programs. After that, they buckled down and got to work and their last table run was much much better.
It was clear that all of the teams were struggling with this year's table, which seemed much harder than last year. So I knew that even if we weren't scoring as high as we'd hoped to, the other teams were in more or less the same pickle. I figured we had a good chance of being a runner-up and going to the state tournament, but when they announced the runners-up and we weren't in there, I wasn't sure what to think. But as it turns out, they did it again and won the overall champion's award. They didn't score the highest on the table, same as last year, but their work on all aspects of the project including trying our best to exemplify the FLL core values pulled them through!
I just looked through all of the photos which are so great, and will have to post some soon. Right now though I'm just so proud of all the work these kids have done!