First Lego League
FIRST Lego League (FLL) is an elementary and middle school robotics competition challenging 300,000 students from 100 countries to create autonomous Lego robots. The goal? To accomplish as many missions as possible on a field in two and a half minutes, to solve real world problems having to do with a theme, learn how to work as a team and have loads of fun with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)! FLL became a part of my life in 2013. Since then I’ve competed with two teams, mentored two teams, and refereed at multiple qualifying events and Colorado State Championships. I love how Lego robots allow me to quickly create and test an idea and how the game challenges me to think outside the box.
This year was my fourth year refereeing for FLL! Once again, I refereed at both the local competition organized by my FRC robotics team, and the FLL State Championship. This season of refereeing was the best yet. I saw amazing robots, interacted with even more amazing students, and added to my outfit, becoming the "the Clash of the Stripes Ref." I can't think of many more rewarding ways to spend a Saturday then helping these up-and-coming engineers discover the joy of robotics and working as a team. Every year, these students inspire me with their hard work, determination and enthusiasm and I can't wait for next year!
Mentoring The Rising Stars
I had a blast mentoring my sister's FLL team in 2018. They created a drop-in-place, modular robot that could be reconfigured in seconds and also developed an edible plastic wrap that could be eaten along with the food wrapped inside it. As a mentor, I helped them work through teamwork challenges and design questions, did taste testing, and oversaw match practice (also referee practice for me). They won their qualifying event and were proud of having an almost perfect competition, earning them a ticket to the state championship where they won the robot game and came in 2nd overall.
FLL was such a fantastic experience that when I passed the age limit to compete, I started volunteering at local competitions. My first year I helped teams at the practice table and reset competition tables. The next year I started refereeing and have been doing both local and state competitions ever since. My favorite part of being a referee is getting down on my knees to talk with the younger students. I love cheering with them when missions go well and seeing their strength when missions don’t. Every team that comes to my table teaches me something new and I have not grown tired of watching 10-year-old determination. When I was competing in FLL, we learned to identify the referees by their hats (FLL referees wear funny hats to make the teams more comfortable). Now that I’m a referee, I am known as the “Dr. Seuss Ref” with my “Cat in the Hat” hat at every competition.
Mentoring Flow H2O
Sadly, I’m too old to compete in FLL, but that hasn’t kept me from being part of the program. My sister showed an interest in FLL in 2017, so my dad and I helped her start a team. We mentored the team of homeschooled girls, coming up with teamwork challenges, answering design questions, helping them brainstorm their project and practicing for competition. They had a successful season, making it to the state competition with their robot. For their project, they created a soup pot lid that collects water as you cook for use in water scarce countries.
The Super Cells
After learning the ropes of FLL with the Platt Wolves in 2013, my dad and I started our own team with three of my friends which had a very different feel from the 20-person team at Platt. We put together a modular robot that won 4th place at the state championship. Our Project was creating a natural disaster kit filled with everything from rope, to freeze dried food, to our most fantastic invention: “Dehydrated Water, just add water!” We filmed a commercial showing how useful it would be in various natural disasters: fires, floods and, of course, a zombie apocalypse.
The Platt Wolves
My first year competing in FLL! I have been working with the NXT programmable Legos on last year’s competition mat for a while but this year I joined a team. Most teams are sponsored by schools, but since I am homeschooled, I needed to find a team. So, for the 2013 competition season I became a Platt Middle School Wolf. The team had 20 kids and we created a robot that made it all the way to the state championship. It was a great introduction to the world of FLL and inspired me to start my own team next year!