Monday, November 16, 2009

The Unspoken Event at FIRST Lego League Robotics Competition

Last year Jaime coached (and I helped a little) a robotics Lego team for Finn and some schoolmates. We had great support from the parents and we fumbled our way towards the regional competition. When we competed last year we did surprisingly well and we were selected to compete at the state tournament. We had a couple repeat team members this year, but it was mostly a new team of 9 students. Jaime and the parents spent many hours with practices.

With Jaime's recuperation from surgery, I had to fill in as head coach by helping them with their final practice and taking them to the regional competition. Our last practice was a little chaotic but we managed to get to a place where everyone felt comfortable and somewhat confident for their competition.

On Saturday, we drove 1.5 hours to Abingdon for our event. We set up shop in the Pit Room and I attended a coaches meeting while the kids proceeded to practice a few more times. The day flew by as the kids competed in the four events: Robot Design, Teamwork, Research Project, Robot Missions. I was very proud of everyone. They got along well, worked as a team, and each did their part to help with the success of the team. I felt that they were strong in many ways but we did not feel that they were necessarily any better than th eother teams.

One highlight of the day was when Jaime showed up! Amy drove her down, they stayed for and hour or so and then they drove back. It was great that the kids were able to compete with her there.

Our events were complete, but we still had time to kill before the closing awards ceremony. We suggested to the kids that it might be fun to run around outside. At first they wanted to play tag, but then they invented their own event. At the end of a great day, I thought that this was the most fun for the kids. They got dirty in the process but had such a great time.

After playing outside, we headed back in for the final ceremonies. Nearing the end of the ceremony it appeared evident that we were not going to get any award at all. As they were announcing who would compete at the state level, we felt that we had no shot. But surprise! We placed high enough to compete at the state competition. After getting over the initial shock of the news it was time to announce the highest award. The Champions Award is given to the team that best understands the bigger picture and has consistently shown learning that takes place and how that learning applies beyond the competition. Surprise again! They received the top award! We all met up for a great meal at an Italian place and then drove home.

For the record, none of this would have been possible without Jaime's amazing coaching. I am so impressed with all that she is able to accomplish. Wish us luck at the state competition in December!


Nicki said...

Yeah! I had no idea that they won. Congrats!

Alyssa said...

That is too cool! I wouldn't even know where to begin with a Lego Robot competition.

Lauren in GA said...

That is so FANTASTIC! Not only to make it to state competition but also to take the top prize that proves their understanding!!! Very, very impressive.

That is so neat that Jaime and Amy showed up. Reading that made me cry. I bet it was really special.

Bob and Joan said...

First off it is clear that winners have to have great parent coaches. So good to take them out and let them just "play". Jaime you are so true blue to show up and cheer them on. We want to say that it is nice to be born smart, parents and students, but the real accomplishment here is the amazing team work that has been developed. What great service to these children from coaching and what amazing champions on your team.

Now if only the international competition were in India.

Elizabeth said...

I love this story. Way to go Finn and Jaime!

janetsmom said...

We were there last year. It takes a lot of time and commitment for parents and kids. Way to go! Where will the State competition be?