Monday, January 4, 2016

Embroidery....What embroidery?

Yikes.  The last four days have been absolutely exhausting and I have gotten absolutely nothing on my to-do list done for a week.  And tomorrow will be the same.  The big robot guys had to do a big push and so we were (and are) over run with teens who need input, editing, suggestions, guidance and feeding constantly.  Two schools aren't in session Monday and so I will have a crew here tomorrow as well, even though my kids will be at school.

Only half the kids in the house that day - others huddled around computers
coding, making presentations, videos and scripts
I had wanted to finish a piece of embroidery...didn't happen.  Sometime about Wednesday my son, who was working 12 hour days, realized that he wasn't getting any help and wasn't going to get their new robot design done for next week's competition.  Time for coach to take over the communications and alert the parents that the puppet mastering was needed (What I call the secret communications between parents so they pull the strings).  Each year we let them run things until we find the limit of their abilities to do so and then help out some and teach more.  So overnight, kids started showing up - getting up early and one even was extricated from an overbearing, manipulating new girlfriend and her family in New Hampshire.  (I gave him a hug as the crying girlfriend was a bit much for him and I give him credit for doing the right thing).  He has been here now three straight days until super late to make up for leaving his friend in the lurch (he is the other master builder).

Google docs is amazing and we had a dozen kids writing scripts, working on notebook, making presentations and judging videos simultaneously as well as four huddled around the robot building like mad to try to get it done.  Impressive to see what can get done in 48 hours when the fire is lit and
Ran up to New Hampshire Christmas Eve to FIRST world HQ.
They asked us to be test subject for static discharge problems.
So hooked up a Van Der Graaf generator and started sparking all
over the place to fail the electronics.  
we stay in the room to unstick anyone who gets stuck.

One day it was hilarious - my husband and I in a local electronic components store with my son on video phone - pointing it at components and asking if that was what he needed so he didn't have to make the 45 min trip and could keep working.  The duffers that run the place had their jaws drop when they saw us shopping the place like that with kids watching the isles through my camera.

We had one parent who runs a team that builds military robots/UAVs and often has to do super fast builds or fixes.  He came down into the robot room and I could see the furrowed brow looking at the TWO functional robots sitting there.  "Yes," I said, "that one didn't exist two weeks ago".  "Dammmm" he said with the total knowingness of what that meant.  He then proceeded to lament that his company was wavering on their high-school internship program as he wants three of them this summer bad.  They are already well trained.

All hands on deck to get it done!  
I was also thrilled with a secret message from the parent of the girls on the team.  The one girl who was adamant about not touching the robot at the beginning of her 'forced participation' on the team in June has decided that she would really like to train and become a robot driver - that is a lot of commitment and she started today.  Her sister had already broken down and become a trusted builder.  And they are now not calling their parents to come get them anymore and now get ticked off when they show up to take them home.  They are hooked - even before we start trying for trophies when the real excitement begins.  I have their two younger sisters on the Lego team.   Being on an intellectual 'sports' team is a totally unique experience and they have found that they really like that.  Their dad is thrilled - he was watching his math wiz older girls start to sway away from STEM as they hit their teen years and now the pendulum is swinging back.

But now that the post office is back open and UPS is more reliable (i.e less people trying to steal what is left on porches)  and Access is putting boxes in the system for me today - it is back to shipping and packing for me today.  It is such a relief as working with the kids on my 'vacation' was so much harder than actually working.


  1. Love your posts about robotics. I coached an FLL team one year and it's a lot of work for everyone, kids and coaches and parents. My daughter is in the lottery for a STEM high school and not very enthusiastic about it. I hope exposure will turn her around like the sisters you describe above.

  2. I'm always amazed at how much you are able to accomplish!

  3. Wonderful work on your part! We need more and more parents and kids involved in these competitions - they really make working on engineering fun!

  4. Love these posts,and good luck to the teams in the future!