Saturday, December 08, 2007

A First On My Blogs

For the first time ever, I'm going to duplicate a post across all three of my blogs. Usually, I keep them pretty separate, figuring that athletes might not be all that interested in my vegetable-growing and chicken-farming adventures. Or that people interested in my family's unschooling days might not care what kind of swim workout I'm using these days. But this one post cuts across all lines of interest in my life. It's about homeschooling my kids and the amazing things we get to do, it's about alternative energy, and it's about teamwork and fostering a positive approach to competition. And I'm so proud, I'm not just going to post a link, I'm putting the whole thing right here as well:

So, my kids' robotics team, the Solar Dragons, went to the regional tournament last weekend. I knew that they were very well prepared, their robot was solid, they had put in a lot of time perfecting their programs, their runs on the challenge table, their research project and presentation, and I knew that they were operating as an exceptional team with respect for each other and for the other teams. What I didn't even imagine in my wildest dreams is that they would WIN THE WHOLE TOURNAMENT! Yep, that's it. They really did it!

First of all, their runs on the robot table went very well. They practiced their approach so many times that there was no fumbling or nervousness at the table, just a smooth running of all the things they needed to do (remove and replace attachments, add cargo, aim robot, select program, run robot). They had decided that they would all run their programs at the table, but according to Lego competition rules, only two of them could be at the table at any given time, so they took a tag-team approach. They helped each other out, and as each kid was done with their turn, they tagged the next.

They also faced three panels of judges. One teamwork panel that asked them questions about how they worked as a team (my favorite moments, when they asked things like "who is your team leader" and the kids said "we operate by consensus", LOL.) One panel was technical judging, where they had the kids run their programs and asked them about their programs and robot design, and a third panel evaluated their research project (they had five minutes to do a presentation, and another five minutes of Q&A - they actually knew their stuff so well, the panel ran out of questions to ask them!). When we saw the research projects of some of the other groups of kids, I knew that our kids would do really well. Many kids from school teams had used their classrooms or part of their school building for the energy audit. While this was probably technically admissible, I think the real goal from Lego FIRST League in setting this as a project for this year was to get the kids out and interacting with the community. Since our team really did choose a big and complex public building to audit, and researched extensively on alternative energy solutions, I knew they'd wow the judges (and they did!).

I am proudest of the fact that they scored a perfect 100 on teamwork. I know they're a great group of kids and they have worked so well together and have had so much fun together, it really showed. Whenever they've made a team decision, it has almost always been unamimous. I think it also really speaks volumes that we have two pairs of siblings on the team (not always the easiest to work with your own family members!) and that the kids come from different educational venues (two different schools plus some homeschoolers). They also got the highest score on their research presentation, something they've put so much time and effort into (see my previous post for a description of what they did). The got the 2nd highest score on the robot table as well, garnering 195 points with their seven mission programs.

So without further ado, here's some pics of these magnificent kids in action!

Here's the table setup in the main competition hall. Two teams compete against each other in timed table runs.



Their first run at the table, Claire and Asa work together to send the robot out on a mission to plant trees.



Time for their technical presentation. Whoops, I forgot to bring the folder with printouts of their programming. Good thing I'm a trained runner!




Waiting for their turn.



Mackenzie and Daniel get the power lines in place, the rest of the team waits behind for their turn to be tagged.




Waiting outside the presentation judging room. It was cold enough to snow and the poor kids were shivering. They're holding the photos for their research presentation.




Presenting to the panel of judges.



We were all so impressed with this kid, Thomas. His entire team backed out, but he came and competed all by himself!



We can't believe it, we won the whole thing!

3 comments:

DV said...

wow! congratulations robin! impressive stuff...

getting a group of kids, especially siblings, to work so cohesively together is quite an accomplishment. "operate by consensus" - i love it!

TriGirl 40 said...

What a wonderful story - shows the best in the kids who'll be doing amazing things in their generation. Send them all my congrats!!!

Makita said...

I was referred to your site by a fellow unschooler and was pleasantly surprised to learn that you're also a tri-athlete! I do marathons and dream of someday also doing triathlons. You are an inspiration! :)