This is going to stray from my normal style of post, but I still want to preserve it here.
Yesterday, the First Lego League robotics team that I coach participated in our regional tournament against 47 other teams.
This is my third year as a coach and mentor, and we’ve had ups and downs on all the teams. We’ve got some strong personalities on the team, ranging (this year) from 6th to 7th grade, but we’ve had a span as wide as 4th grade to 8th grade in the past. My son is on the team as well.
The kids were amazing on Sunday. I never, in my wildest dreams, could have imagined how well they would perform in all the categories:
- The robot challenge
- The project presentation
- Design interview
- Core values challenge
The kids simply blew me away, and, what’s more, they blew the judges away. Not only did the kids place in the top 4 teams in our division, qualifying them to move on to sectionals, they also won a Judge’s Award for outstanding performance.
We even had one round where the judge screwed up, costing the kids well over 100 points. But there was no going back once the mistake was discovered. The two kids running the robot (one of whom was my son) were devastated. But they didn’t argue, they didn’t freak out… they tried their best to get as many points as they could in the remaining round and when the two of them broke down in tears back at the main table, the rest of the team rallied around them and cheered them up, telling them how proud they were of what they did. I can’t even put into words how proud I was.
This victory is all on them. My partner coach and I are no star coaches. I don’t know much about programming or robotics, and I’m not even that good with Lego (or groups of kids, for that matter). However, this definitely shows that even with limited resources (you should see how much some teams spend on their parts and such) the kids can do amazing things if they put their minds to it.
It was a truly amazing experience, and, I hope, something they will never forget. Most of the team are on their third year, and I think they’ve really learned the value of hard work. I couldn’t ask for more.
It all starts here.