Monday, January 30, 2017

Robots and Learning

This weekend I took my FTC team to their local competition.  For those who do not know FTC is a competition where the kids 7th to 12th grade build 18 inch by 18 inch by 18 inch  robot (which may expand) to do certain challenges in 2 and 1/2 minutes.  Part of it is driving, but part of it is programming the robot to work on its own for 30 seconds.  It's a long haul to build the robot and get it up and running, especially when you are working with teenagers, but it is fun as well.  They learn about gear ratios, wiring, torque, all sorts of engineering stuff as well as how to present themselves.  Our team was doing great (some where between 2nd and 6th out of 26 teams for most of the game), but on our 5th and last run the robot decided it didn't want to talk to the drive brain and we fell flat our face.  Though the kids were disappointed, (understandably so), we took it as a learning moment.  What needed to be checked before we went on the field?  Who should have been in charge of that? What could we have done differently?  We encouraged them not to blame anyone, because crud happens and insisted they did way better then in the past.  At the very least, we lost nothing on the playing field during play.... there is a long tradition of leaper bots in our competitions.  But the take away we wanted them to see was they had fun at the competition and they learned not only from their mistakes and things that went well, but they learned from the other teams as well.  My girls are chatty, as are some of my boys, and they were talking it up with a lot of kids.  Which is the other point of these competitions.  Getting kids who like the same things to get together, talk over their ideas, and realize that being a "nerd" is not only fun, but are cool, as well!

Have a great day and pass on the fun!

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