Troop 3113 went on an exciting adventure this fall when they became TeamABC3113 to compete in the Central Valley Robotics First Lego League. ABC stands for Adventurous, Brave and Curious. The girls were so excited when they began to assemble the Nature’s Fury mission models and got the robot programmed to turn and go backwards and forwards. That was just the beginning. We started to meet twice weekly. We had a team working on the Project and another team working on the programming. When the girls wanted to switch and try something different, they let us know. We were in uncharted waters together.
The 2013 FLL challenge was Natures Fury and our team decided that they would like to base our Project research on the Rim Fire. We visited the Cal fire offices in Sanger to learn about how fires are fought. We learned how the fire responders care for their equipment and how they work as a team. We learned about what kind of damage the Rim Fire did to the land and how it burned so hot it turned wooded forests into moonscapes. It damaged the habitats of endangered species. After several sessions of internet research the girls decided that they liked the idea of inventing a robotic mouse that was solar powered, programmed to detect smoke and lead animals away from dangerous fires. One of the girls took on the responsibility of writing the entire presentation skit and casted the girls herself. We found a younger brother to play the part of the mouse. The project play was a smash hit and so much fun.
We quickly discovered that programming was fun, but challenging. It was something that the girls had never done before, and it required a lot of patience because of the trial-and-error process involved in successfully completing each mission. First, it had to be decided what missions would be done, how the missions would be done, how to program the robot to do the mission, and finally how to fix mistakes along the way. Two or three girls worked together to do this. Sometimes it seemed like no matter what the robot would not cooperate- and why were we doing this anyway?? I told them that in real-life situations grown ups learn to solve problems by working together. That means they respect each others ideas, they listen to what other people have to say and they try out things. They recognize that problem solving is a creative activity and they learn to have fun while they work. They learned that problem solving was not easy, but there was great reward in achieving a successful mission. We hung out together, ate meals together, played together; We were like a family.
Competition was exciting and scary. Our first qualifying round was tough. We weren’t sure what to do, and our robot went all sideways and wrong. No worries, afterwards we headed off to the practice table and refined our strategy. At the second round, success! We more than doubled our points! We headed back to the practice table again, and at the final mission we added ten more points to our final round totals. We were so proud to come in 13th out of 23 teams. We were so happy and had so much fun- we felt like we came in first.
During the day the girls were interviewed about me. I waited outside and afterwards they came out, ran toward me and gave me a big hug. Later on I found I won the Coaches Award. I could not believe it. I am still stunned and amazed that not only did I survive the crazy robot journey, but that I made a big enough impression upon my girls that I was recognized in this way. There is no better present under my Christmas tree than my FLL Coaches Award. I am so proud of my girls, and I can’t wait to continue our Girl Scout journey together.
(Tanya Desmond, Troop leader 3113)