This has been a bit of a struggle for me because Thing 1 is kind of reticent and hesitant… and often wanders away from the activity and I struggle to get her back to involve herself. There is another girl on the team, who has the personality of a bull dozer. I've struggled with her because she gets angry at being told to get to work, and she barks back at me and the other coach, her mother. Our biggest personality battles have been with her. There is a boy on the team who is very quiet, a really nice kid, he's the real programmer. Just the three kids.
The other mother and I have struggled to get them to produce much. There are four parts to the competition. The most exciting is the lego robot games, in which the robot has to move levers, manipulate legos, and bypass obstacles to get points. The three other parts are presentations the kids give about three topics - their robot design, how well they work as a team, and a research project on the topic of the year. This year it was natural disasters.
The qualifying tournament was January 4th. We spent all of January 3rd practicing for it. The kids each spearheaded one of the three presentation topics, each one of them making a trifold board presentation. Then they doodled all over the black presentation board with metallic sharpie markers.
The kid's boards really looked good. Very clean with just their text printed on white paper, pasted to the black boards, with the silver and gold doodles. We were advised to use black boards by a retired coach of another local team, who won a prize at the world competition last year. It was excellent advice. Our boards really looked good. This is Thing 1's board about the research project.
At the end of the qualifying tournament we ended up with a prize, the championship prize for that qualifier. Apparently the Championship Prize is sort of the overall prize. We had to be in the top 40% of the robot games, and have generally high scores on each of our boards. The kids were so surprised that they won that they were sitting in the auditorium with their faces hanging out… the other coach and I practically had to bodily lift them up out of their chairs to go get their trophy.
The state tournament is next week. I expect us to get slaughtered. But then I expected us to be in last place at the qualifier, so what do I know? It wasn't that we did so great - we only could complete three out of a dozen or so missions, but we did those perfect without any penalties. Other teams were getting tons of penalties and their scores were beat up for it. After the first of three rounds on the games we were in third place. The father of the little boy on our team is one of the most naturally enthusiastic and happy people on the planet, and he was sitting behind me saying "You're in third place! They're in third place!!!" I was thinking "Oh that's you just being charmingly overenthusiastic…" and assuring him it was alphabetical order or something because there was no way we were in third place - but there it was posted on the big screen for all to see - we were in third place! Over the course of the next two rounds two teams bumped ahead of us, but they ended up in fifth overall of the robot games, and our team is moving on to the state event.
I found this video of someone else's super robot performing a bunch of missions, just in case you're interested. Our little robot didn't do hardly any of these things.
The tournament itself was all very exciting. Thing 1 was talking about skipping the whole tournament before we went - she was just tired of it all, but once we got there, it was really fun for the kids. The whole tournament is run very well and everyone did a great job.
This is a quick video I took of the kids on our 2nd of three trys at the game table - Thing 1 on the left, the boy on the team on the right. You can see the game table in between them and the robot failing to knock over the building it's supposed to knock over.
They got their trophies (I had copies made for the other two kids), they got their tee shirts. We won't win the state competition, we're just happy to go.