Sunday, January 07, 2007

Thank you, Mrs. Roboto

This weekend, at the First Lego League Robotics Competition at the beautiful University of Texas campus, Shannon coached two teams of smarty pants science kids to glorious victory.

Shannon’s robot teams, made of kids from her after-school Science Club, are some interesting young intellectuals. Let me tell you, these are the type of kid that would answer “math” when asked for a favorite subject. This is in stark contrast to their lovely peers who would answer, “lunch, recess, or MySpace.”

What in the world are you talking about?


“This is an international program for children ages 9-14 that combines a hands-on, interactive robotics program with a sports-like atmosphere. Teams consist of up to 10 players with the focus on such things as team building, problem solving, creativity, and analytical thinking.

Each September, a new Challenge is unveiled to FLL International teams across the world. Over the course of 8 weeks, they strategize, design, build, program, test and refine a fully autonomous robot capable of completing the various missions of the FLL International "Robot Game" Using the LEGO MINDSTORMS™ technology.”

I, for one, welcome our new Lego Robot Overlords

Shannon and her two teams, the RoboJags and the cleverly named Luddites threw down some crazy robot good times this last Saturday.

I was seriously dragging from a late night of playing Guitar Hero 2 with friends, but the pure nerd energy and science goodness from this event was invigorating. The robots performed pretty well, but it was The Luddites’ humorous skit that would win accolades on this day.

Nano The Alamo:
Tasked with researching a creative use for nano-technology, they performed a skit about the theoretical impact of nano-technology liquid armor on the battle of the Alamo.

They had nerf darts flying everywhere, humorous asides, and a deep understanding of the science involved with nano-technology. The judges laughed the entire time, and Shannon was stunned and somewhat mortified by her team’s free-wheeling, whimsical presentation.

Something must have clicked, because they won a cool 2nd place trophy out of 30+ teams for their research presentation. Shannon continues her championship ways. The best part was seeing how unbelievably happy the kids were to win a prize after their robots struggled in the mission competition.

The Actual Trophy (not actual size)

Shannon kept repeating the two goals for the competition: to learn and to have fun. The kids were certainly having a great time in this academically-charged environment. We are all already fired up about next year’s competition. I’m going to try and assistant coach the team and serve as a mentor. Being married to a science teacher does rock, indeed!

Some possible fundraising to buy more robots for the science classes of Cedar Valley Middle School is in the works. This program gives gifted kids an exciting team sport that teaches them math, science, and teamwork, and I want to support it.

Congratulations again to Shannon and her awesome RoboJags and Luddites.


Chris said...

We're all very proud, Shannon. Your kids were hilarious.

Sarah said...

Hooray for Shannon & her nerds (a term used most lovingly)! I am so proud!! :) I am sad there is no video of the skit...that would be priceless. Re: the fundraiser, maybe we can get Chris F. to enter an eating contest to support the cause...he may be the only bankable talent we have between us.

Chris said...

How about: for every $5 dollar donation, we'll put an additional item on top of Cuervo (the cat) and post the pictures on the internet.

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

That IS a good idea, Chris! You know he is a BIG cat and could hold a BUNCH of STUFF! :) He'll take one for the team. Anything to increase the power of nerd energy in the universe! Maybe we start with a nice lego stack?