They’re already light-years ahead of me…

We’ve had our first meeting.  Of the ten students that were invited into this inaugural LRES Robotics Program (for lack of a better term), seven of them showed up and were raring to go.  I’m told one has chosen not to join, one appeared to be absent, and I’ll need to check in with the last.

I introduced myself and Mrs. O’Neill, though it was barely necessary, as many of them appeared to be her former students, and everybody sees me once per week now in Health class.  We discussed the program, the expectations, and the challenges ahead, as well as what we’re looking for going forward. Then, we set them a building task.

It’s one of my favorites.  I put a huge bin of Lego bricks in front of them and say, “You have 10 minutes, you may use up to 25 bricks, you may only use red, orange, and yellow bricks.  Build a duck.”  Then I start the timer.  I love this one as a team-building exercise for a number of reasons, but in this case, for one very important one (and I go over this at the end of the build):  No matter what we think we’re going to build, no matter what we want to build, and no matter what we need to build, we’re going to have to build it as a team.  You may already have an idea for what our robot’s going to look like in your head, I know I do, but whatever you think it’s going to be, it’s not only going to be your vision.  We ALL have to work to bring our visions and ideas together into a successful, working robot.  My duck doesn’t look like anybody else’s duck, in fact, NOBODY’S duck looks like anybody else’s duck, and we’re going to have to figure out how to make one, unified build.  I truly don’t have any idea what your robot’s going to end up looking like, but I do know…  It’s going to be awesome.

Then we went for a walk.

We decided to take a hike along the nature trail, to try to get a feel for what we were going to have to include, what we were going to have to do, and what kinds of challenges we were going to have to overcome along the path.  Parts of the trail are not very well designated, there’s stumps, roots, mud, obviously plenty of leaves and pine needles, and in one place, there’s an entire tree that the path has to veer around because it’s fallen over and is too big to move.

And this is why I say they’re already ahead of me.  They’re talking about flying robots, crawling robots, walking robots, and combining different types.  They’ve got them with extendable arms, a camera that can drop down to get a better look at things, ways to get over the water, and the list keeps going.  As we trudged back into the building to prepare to wrap up for the day, they were buzzing with ideas about how to solve this or build that.  I couldn’t keep up with it.

I don’t know how this whole thing is going to end up, but I have no doubt it’s going to be awesome…


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