Our robotics competition actually began several months ago with a "Kick off" event - a live telecast which we attended at NASA/JPL. During this event, we were shown this year's robot challenge - a game called "Zone Zeal." After the Kick off, the kids were allowed just 6 weeks to design, engineer, build, debug, practice, and ship the robot to the competition. During this time, I worked along with other mentors on our team to help the students accomplish the numerous tasks that were needed to complete our robot.
Not only did we accomplish our goal of helping the students to prepare for and complete the event, we managed to help them finish in the top third of the event. The final ranking for our Team (981) was 17th out of 60 teams.
More important however, were the lessons which the students learned over the past several months including teamwork, communications skills, project planning, action management, prototyping, mechanical design and robot construction.
On a personal note: I was able to visit with Dean Kamen, the founder of US FIRST and a truly amazing person.
It has been a great deal of fun. It has also been quite challenging with only 6 weeks allowed for all of this to happen. I have seen a lot of growth in the kids we mentored. It is my hope that this experience will have a positive and lasting impact on their lives as they continue their education and become the problem solvers of the future.
Eric D. Mack,
Mentor, Team 981