LEGO Dragon Trash Trek

Congrats to the LEGO Dragons!  They took home the INSPIRATION award at their FIRST LEGO League (FLL) tournament this past weekend.  The LEGO Dragons are C’s team that I coach.  E’s team was awarded the PROGRAMMING award.   I’m very proud of both teams and all the work they put into the season.

Neither team is moving on to districts.  The threshold to be considered for a district invitation is placing in the top 55% of teams during the robot competition.  The LEGO Dragons just barely missed the cut off score, I think they were 1 point behind 10th and 7 points behind 9th with 320 points.  They  scored 433 the night before in our practice rounds.  Unfortunately they made a very slight error when they built one of the practice models and were unable to make changes to the programming while at the tournament because of a separate misunderstanding about what “saving” meant followed by a program crash.  The fix to the program where the mission model was set up incorrectly was easily done in a few minutes, but doing so at the tournament would have risked messing up 3 other mission runs that were worth 140 points.  It was really a tough thing, but the kids took it pretty well.  They really showed so much growth in how they handled the robot game this year.  When things went wrong they adapted quickly and made lots of good decisions.

One of the core values of FLL is being in the competition to learn, not just to win awards.  This year in particular I feel like we learned so much.  I know I’m much more conscientious about avoiding plastic shopping bags.  I also discovered I was throwing away film plastics that can be recycled by taking them to the store with any plastic bags I happen to collect.  I taught our team how to use a sewing machine and  I learned how to use a cutting machine for vinyls.

NXT CatapultI’m viewing the fact we didn’t move on in the competition as an opportunity to connect with the robots in more creative and fun ways.  Instead of focusing on points in the robot game maybe we will be building robotic animals that respond to sound or “eat” food pellets.  The contraption above is one E built to send fun size candy bars down a conveyor belt, drop them into a catapult, and fling them at the recipient.  It was a bit crazy and didn’t work exactly as he wanted.  but he was very engaged in making it and trouble shooting.   Maybe we will set aside the robots and do some 3D printing or make animated Christmas cards.  I’m not sure exactly what we will be doing, but I’m looking forward to the space for creative play.