February 12, 2012

What A Day

Okay so I just got back from the Penn FIRST LEGO League Championship at the University of Pennsylvania, and I want to tell you all how impressed I am by these kids!

The first time I volunteered for FIRST LEGO League (FLL) was at the Qualifying Tournament hosted at The School District HQ. A few of us from the Robotics club volunteered and Andrea and I were lucky enough to be Project Judges for the event. We were responsible for evaluating the teams' presentation on a real-world problem they had researched and analyzed related to this year's challenge: Food Factor. We also got to nominate three teams for either the Research, Presentation, or Innovative Solution awards! We gained a lot of insight on the judging process but beyond that we got to see how hard these teams worked and how creative they are. We saw many presentation types: from Powerpoints to skits to a Jeopardy game!

Even today at the Championship competition these teams did not cease to amaze me. Today's event brought teams from Philadelphia and the surrounding area to compete in the competition and it was nice to see some familiar faces. However, this time I got to be a Practice Table Assistant, which involved resetting the game field and managing teams who wanted to practice on a mock field to work out any kinks before their actual competition. This differed greatly from the last time I volunteered because I got to see their robots in their raw form. The teams built their robots from the LEGO NXT kit-- something I am all too familiar with xD So I offered what wisdom I could when teams ran into a jam. Yet despite the difficulties, I marveled at what they had built. In most cases, I doubt I could have build something as clever as they had. Overall it was a very enriching event :)

Afterwards, I dallied around campus and one feeling that wouldn't escape me was the feeling of hope. I've come a long way in the past year, but I started to imagine if I had started with FLL in elementary or middle school how much I could have accomplished but then I was reminded of my experiences that I wouldn't change for the world. Still I'm glad that they have such an amazing opportunity. I can't wait to see what they achieve. 

#faith in the next generation restored