This past weekend, my husband and I were part of a judging panel for the First Lego League Robotics Tournament hosted by our school district. Here is the description of the challenge:
“In the 2013 NATURE’S FURY℠ Challenge, over 200,000 children ages 9 to 16* from over 70 countries will explore the awe-inspiring storms, quakes, waves and more that we call natural disasters. Teams will discover what can be done when intense natural events meet the places people live, work, and play. Brace yourself for NATURE’S FURY!
*9-14 in the US, Canada, and Mexico”
We spent most of the day sitting at a table judging 26 teams for the Robotics tournament. The students were in middle school and had to identify a natural disaster in a community of their choice, do research, come up with a solution, and present it to the judges. Each team had 5 minutes to set up and present and the judges had 3 minutes to question them. It was a long day but the kids were so interesting and it was fun to see how they came up with their solutions.
The best part of this event for me was how each team chose to present their information. There were so many creative ways that they shared their project. Some teams did skits and some gave demonstrations. One team did a video that they made which they spoke their public service message in different languages because many of the group were from India. This message was shared with schools in India. Another team talked about the need for generators and transfer switches being required by law at gas stations during emergency situations. They went as far as contacting legislators and seeing how they could propose this for a bill.
The teams were judged on their research, innovation, and presentation. To judge each team, the judges used a rubric with a scale of 0-4 and a description for each category. The judges only had 2 minutes after the team left the room to fill out one scoring sheet which did not leave a lot of time for comments. We had to be positive and encouraging on the judging sheets but there was so much more that I wanted to say to a lot of the teams. They were all wonderful and could be proud of what they did but I wish we could talk to the coaches of each team to give them some suggestions for their teams to be even better.
Suggestions I would have given some teams:
1. Talk louder.
2. Talk slower.
3. Don’t block your demonstration. You have seen this before but the judges haven’t.
4. Practice your presentation.
5. Don’t read your poster word for word.
6. Choose a spokesperson to choose people to answer questions asked by the judges.
7. Time your presentation and practice your timing.
8. Make sure you have met the objectives of the challenge.
9. Go over the rubric that will be used to make sure you have covered all of the parts.
If you haven’t ever been to a Robotics tournament, I would highly encourage you to go. These children may one day be our future leaders.
Original photos by Pat Hensley