Friday, November 30, 2018

Did Someone Say Robots?

Yes, I never finished the robot story (a big one) over the summer.  When my life and work overwhelm me I can't write and I had finished the story of the Lego season for the younger crew so it was at a good pause point.  When I was at Winterthur quite a few people complained that I hadn't finished my thoughts...

For anyone who didn't remember where we were at - here are the links from the storyline to catch up.

Robots as Life Part I

Robots as Life Part II

Beginning of Robot Year 

Lego Season and Antartica

Robot Revolution taking over the metal robot field - they were jaw set
determined to go to competiton
So when I left off, the younger team had won the Top Performing Robot award at the state championship in late December with a top 5 score in the world and had sent their project to Antartica for testing.

And we didn't win the championship. Or the runner up or the runner up to the runner up.  They were not happy.  I won't go into the details, but we adults learned a bunch of stuff from a FTC coach who was one of the judges and found that we wouldn't likely ever win the championship - a mix of things that happen in these big organizations which are unfair to kids who work this hard.  Some of it centers on how 90% of the adults who judge this stuff have never done it and so either don't understand it or think that no kid could be that good so it must have been done by the adults.  That is so sad.  She had coached the best team in Lego and was the coach of one of our two biggest competitors in the metal division and knew us and knew we coach fair so she had argued to the matt for us.  And was totally overruled by the men as they dismissed her (a MIT engineer).  And was she pissed.  The kids didn't know about this until recently.

But what they did was phenomenal the day after the state championship.  The championship was a few days before Christmas and as I said, they were not happy.  There had been some joking about how they should just join the FTC division of metal robots.  (We adults realized they were done with the Lego division) - and they took it seriously.  As in by Christmas there was a robot frame.  Holy OMG kids are you serious??  Within a week, I knew how serious they were - taking anger and translating it into hard work and working beside The Brainstormers to build their own robot for the challenge.

Now realize - they were starting four months late in a high school competition as 6th-8th graders.  Four months late.  The actual qualifier competitions had started a month earlier and The Brainstormers had already qualified for the state championship - before these kids started a robot.  I emailed the state coordinator and asked if I registered them if they could get a slot at one of the last qualifiers at the end of January.  She said yes.  So they became Robot Revolution FTC team #14106.

Two of the Robot Revolution kid learning to
drive their robot
I didn't know how long the determination would last as we were already pretty tired from the fall or even if all the families would stick to it.  The families didn't have a choice - the kids were here every weekend.  Nothing like feeling things didn't go as they should to motivate them.  So now realize - I now have TWO metal robot teams on my hands at the same time when things would usually be cooling off a little.  We talked with the kids and told them they had to design the robot themselves and were not allowed to use the same design The Brainstormers had - it was so original.  They even had The Brainstormers first prototype robot in the room.  We made them take it apart.  If you are going to do this - you are going to do it from scratch and make sure your reputation is that because it will follow you for the rest of the years.  Don't let others think you had your older siblings do your work.

And they had a working, programmed robot and went to competition with full notebook, CAD designs, and presentation materials in four weeks - something in every catagory.  They worked around the clock.


I mean just WOW.  Many high schools barely make that after five months.

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