|Checking the checklist - a lesson from the older team|
born of so many mistakes. These guys have had
their share and so now believe in the checklist too.
We have been working very, very hard with them on their ability to answer questions and public speak. Because they are all below 7th grade (most are 4-5th graders), they are shy about taking to unknown adults as well as often unable to understand the point of a question that is vague and open. That is why most teams that win a judged award at the state level are 7th graders and up. After the qualifier, where they won the top robot score (and the top score in the state at that point) as well as a judged award in
|Supporting their team mates. All our kids are in driving teams|
so they have their chance to hold up their end of the results
I asked all the parents to take a week and put their kids on the spot - stopping almost any unsuspecting adult and asking the child to explain their project and robot system to them. The idea was to get the kids over the fear of talking and to have to field questions constantly. Everyone took it to heart. Starting with me - I informed my boy minutes before arriving at a birthday party the day after competition that I was going to select a random parent and would have him explain the stuff. Better get your elevator pitch ready, I told him. He of course freaked as he is the one with
|In the zone before their set of three judging sessions. At this point there|
is nothing to do but watch them coach each other on their points and smile
We all informed their teachers of their outstanding performance and the need to do this public speaking. So all the kids were surprised at school when teachers and principals would stop them to hear their pitch as well as most were asked to get up in front of the class and explain. By that Friday, they had done it so much that they were starting to compete with each other on how many times they had done it. And then one kid had the realization that his mom (digital head of NOVA) was having a christmas party for her team next door. They ran up the stairs and before I knew it, had grabbed the poster presentations and ran to the house and did an impromptu judging with the unsuspecting guests (most of whom had judged science fairs, not a surprise). I was so thrilled as the ploy was working to get them out of their skin and realize that it wasn't the end of the world to put themselves out there to talk to adults.
Now there is history to all this. I have learned so much from working with the older team. The first
|The mantra is one perfect run in the stadium. It is exhausting to watch|
from the bleachers. 16 teams running at once with MCs screaming out
the progress amid cheers and rock music
|The team with their trophies|
So back to yesterday. Our goal for the year was to win a judged award at the state level - that would show us that they had growth in their ability to express their work. They had some trouble getting the robot to score as high as they did at home at first, scoring between 5th and 8th place as the day went on. Then on their forth run they pulled away from the field and were first by quite a bit. That lasted until the last run of the day and a team beat us. Unfortunately they switched the posting to elimination matches so we didn't see it and the kids thought they had the 1st place sewn up for about 10 minutes before I learned from someone that they had been passed. Guess that was their little failure point. But winning the 2nd place robot performance a second year in a row over 435 other teams is pretty unheard of - so we were thrilled. Then the big surprise - we had hoped they would win a second place judged award in one of the three robot categories. As they went by, we figured that we hadn't accomplished our goals. Then it was a huge surprise to be selected for the 1st place Inspiration award as the team who best exemplified taking the values and lessons of all the areas of the competition in their lives. A big trophy and way more than we were hoping for them. They won four awards this year. As FLL has a rule that you can only win one at a competition - the only exception is if you win robot performance. So we just can't get over doing that two years in a row - the parents all had a big dinner out in town. Fortunate as the party ended up at our house as the celebrating was big. So much relief at the end of the season.
Except that as we loaded the robot into the truck and put it into reverse to leave the venue - a small voice from the team in the back asked me the following:
"So how can we improve coach..?"
They have decided to start working again in January.
They want the big trophy. Guess I don't get much of a rest.