Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Message from Atlanta

April 11
Well, I've been up since 4am. The flight to Atlanta for the FIRST World Festival of robotics took off around 7 and I've been on the run since we landed. They have a giant airport with a train taking you from terminal to terminal. Best of all is the subway from the airport right into downtown. No flimsy billion dollar boondoggle like Airtran that we have to take you from Kennedy to - where? Remember how they found money for that? And did we ever hear a word from our union leaders about how they manage to come up with money for these things but not for class size -- you know, the old "if we ask for it in the contract it will have to come out of salaries- sniff, sniff." Enough of that. On to better things.

Kids, teachers and parents and anyone else who can come along started arriving this evening at the Georgia Dome and it's a magnificent site. I am working in the FLL area - the 9-14 year olds. There are 90+ teams from all over the world - 3 from China, including mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The best was a group of kids from Jordan. The had contacted me about coming to our NY event but the teacher couldn't get a visa in time. But they are here now. There's also a team from Israel in the high school division. There are teams from almost every state and our 2 NYC FLL teams from Staten Island and the Bronx checked in tonight. There are lots more NYC teams in the high school event (FRC) where the big robots do their thing.

I was put on a video project not as a camera person but as a liaison to the coaches and teams - sort of a scout to get some interesting stories. The film guy is from Boston and is fabulous-- we both have the same camera and I will pick is brains until he screams. He made a lot of his own equipment and I learned a hell of a lot in our meeting today.

This is one amazing group of people - hundreds of volunteers from all over. And the kids are the best. One of my favorite teams from Aviation HS is here and I'm wearing their shirt and hat and Donnie Swanson from IS 75 in SI is giving me one of their great tee-shirts. There are 2 teams from Bronx High and one from Brooklyn Tech and SI Tech- coach Mike Seigel drove a van down here with all the equipment while the kids flew. And of course, the shockign winners of the tournament at Javits a few weeks ago - Westinghouse wich upset Stuy and SI Tech.

NASA is simulcasting on the web so take a look. NASA has updated their web page to make finding the FIRST 2007 Championship competition fields easier to find for viewing.

Please go to http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/robotics/ and scroll down to the Einstein/Lego League field to view the FLL World Festival rounds (you may also want to catch some of the FRC and FVC rounds too!) Please note that FLL practice rounds are on Thursday and the competition rounds are on Friday (there are no rounds on Saturday.)

A public agenda of all the 2007 FIRST Championship program activities can be found at http://www.usfirst.org/uploadedFiles/Community/Assets/Agenda_Final.pdf

I got pics and will post them and more on the robotics web site when I get a chance -- if they ever let me sleep. Got to be there at 7am tomorrow. Retirement really works. Later.

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