First State FIRST LEGO League (FS FLL) Qualifier Event

Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 12:16 pm Leave a comment

Hey-

Okay so there’s plenty of great things brewing and I’m really happy to report them. But also, I’ve been really racking my brain as to how to give the emphasis of it. Shrug? I’m trying my best here.

Yesterday, I went to a FIRST Lego League competition with the team I’ve been helping for the past 6 weeks, and got to see the entire spectrum of success, calamity, and everywhere in between. The Lovely Lego Ladies, a group that’s part of Girls, Inc, was competing in their very first competition. They didn’t know what they were getting themselves into, and neither did the team’s coach and I! From the moment we got there ( late due to getting lost on the way), we had lots of calamity. The laptop we brought ceased to work, which meant that the girls couldn’t program their robot to do the task that would get them points in rounds. The robot itself needed lots of work so that it wouldn’t fall apart even at the slightest touch. And lastly, as could be expected, the girls were losing all their enthusiasm and were beginning to get into arguments!  Even as they went into the judging sessions to explain their robot, team spirit, and project research, they were having trouble seeing eye to eye. It was not a good moment.

But, the team kept working toward their next goal: a working robot that would win points in the performance rounds. The first round got 9 points. The second: 20. And finally, the penultimate moment of the day: the robot was finally able to activate the ‘Crash-Test ramp!’, getting them even more points! It was just heaven watching the girls all cross fingers and then celebrate as “Wall-e” did what they’d spent months trying to accomplish. I’m so happy I got photos of the entire day, and of course, this moment. The final round’s score: 55 points! This kind of progression is what keeps us all smiling.

The event’s volunteers, judges, referees, MC, and coordinators did an excellent job running a great event. On top of the FLL event that they held at the Kennett Square Middle School, a Jr. FLL competition was there, too. Surprisingly, everyone had good space to work. And all the teams had great Gracious Professionalism, some handing out candy and everyone being friendly and helpful. A huge thanks goes to Radnor Robotics Team, who allowed us to use an extra laptop with the programming software already loaded on it. Without this, who knows how far the downward spiral of emotions would have gone. Not only did this team gladly hand the laptop to us, but at the moment they heard that they needed it, members were running to help.

The day didn’t end after our 2.5-minute third match, however. Following the last matches of the day, the school’s gym filled up for the closing ceremonies and awards presentation. The Lovely Lego Ladies kept their chins up as teams were awarded for their excellent projects, excellent robots, and amazing teamwork and spirt. I even watched as they cheered loudly for the Squirrels of Fire as they won a judges’ award for their awesome team dynamics. The last award came up: the ‘Against All Odds’ award. The girls perked up and smiled as they heard the announcer mention, ” As this team’s robot broke during their robot design judging session…” and listened carefully. The judges had been as aware of LLL’s challenges as I had! They knew that that 3rd round was important to the girls. “The winner of this award is…. The Lovely Lego Ladies, Team 6114!”

I spent the bus ride home smiling, while hearing the girls sing along to music on the radio and talk about their accomplishments.  I even noticed the bus driver occasionally smiling and laughing as the girls got up and danced on the way home. I’d never heard them as loud as they were at that point- I didn’t mind one bit.

Thank you, Lovely Lego Ladies! I’m so proud of you!

-Doug

PS: Yesterday was also the Kickoff for the 2010 FIRST Robotics Competition. I almost felt guilty for making this the first kickoff I’d missed in 11 years, but no. Instead, I think this was exactly where I was supposed to be. The next 6 weeks will be full of me helping with FLL, MATE, FRC and of course, schoolwork.

My last post mentioned how I was in a bit of a quandary about the amount of things I do on a daily basis. My decision: I’m going to keep being Doug. It means: I’ll keep loading my schedule and smiling throughout all of it.

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