Monday, February 10, 2014


Building robots? We didn't do this in high school. The closest thing they had was shop class where they would build things out of wood and learn to use tools (for boys) and Home-Ec where cooking and sewing was taught (for girls). Wow, high school was sexist back then! Do they even have shop class anymore?

safety glasses required!

On Saturday, we attended the state championship robotics competition to watch our 16 year-old granddaughter (team co-captain and robot programmer). Qualifying teams from all over the state, 36 in all, competed against and with each other in 2-1/2 minute rounds, seeing whose robot could get the most blocks in the basket, which robots could raise the flag and hang from the overhead bar. 

FTC Block Party!

There were high school teams, magnet school teams, middle school teams, even a girl scout team. Gilmer was well represented, sending 3 teams to the state championship. Someone asked Madison, to have 3 teams Gilmer must be a magnet school, and they were surprised that it was just a public high school - one with a teacher that goes the extra mile.

This program meets the qualifications of being very educational, and from watching the kids all day, it is apparently fun also. During the course of study they learn things like building something per specifications and keeping within a budget, teamwork, problem solving, repair, despair. They learn that they don't always win, that some judges are not nice, and of course writing code and programming a robot.

 Building the robot in class and after school is only part of the course. Teams are formed and they participate in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) competition - "The hardest fun you will ever have". The competition encourages costumes, there is music and an MC to call the play-by-play of the robots in the ring. With all FIRST events, Gracious Professionalism is strongly encouraged: 
Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It's a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. 
With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended. 
In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.

After a full day of competition, 8 teams will go on to Texas in 2 weeks for the SuperRegionals. None of the Gilmer teams made the cut, although Madison's team is 2nd alternate, standing by in case they are needed.

It was a long day of qualifying and elimination rounds, a long stressful day of about 14 hours for some of the kids and parents and teachers who got there at 7:30 for check in and stayed until the end. And a special shout-out to the Gilmer bus driver who spent her very full day cheering for the home teams! We were already home when Melissa texted me this picture and message - massive line dance has broken out!

isn't that the Gilmer bus driver?

 a few more pictures HERE

1 comment:

Gypsy Quilter said...

How very exciting to even make it this far in the competition. Just think what will be possible next year!