Friday, April 18, 2014

(From the Westminster Robotics blog)
In their first year in the FIRST Lego League competitions, one of our junior high school teams (Robocats 3) qualified at the Clayton State University Tournament (January 12, 2008) for the Georgia state tournament to be held at GA Tech February 9, 2008.

They began the year as an all-girls team of four (three 8th graders and one 7th) and added two boys early in the fall semester 2007. Despite scheduling conflicts, declining participation, and other difficulties, two of the girls persevered, discovering that even when everything else fell apart around them, they were strong and determined enough to see it through on their commitments.

Over their four months of robot design and development, they evolved a technically complicated NXT robot with some quite sophisticated approaches to solving the many missions in the 2007 FLL Power Puzzle Challenge. While they had many operational difficulties with the performance of their robot in Saturday's tournament, the students hit home runs in the Robot Design and Teamwork categories and they won the Project Award, proving that performance on all fronts is necessary for true team success.

Concerning their only weak spot from the tournament, they know their robot could and should have performed much better. They are re-energized and more determined than ever to refine their NXT robot to fix their shortcomings before the January 9th tournament.

This has been one of the most spectacular experiences in my 18-year teaching career. I am more convinced than ever that we must put our students in open-ended situations where they use what they know to find creative, original solutions to problems and they solve them on their own with appropriate minimal assistance and guidance from those around them. These two girls found a way to conquer a litany of obstacles stacked against them and they emerged confident, energized and determined. Look out world!