Boy am I wiped. I dragged myself into the house at 7 last night without chills, without a voice and very hungry. This was my 15th year at a FIRST LEGO League robotic championship, the last 14 as volunteer. I became a volunteer for FLL soon after I retired in 2002, so I am pretty attuned to the support and lack of from the DOE over this time. I'll get to this in a followup post but first I posted this on facebook with my photos:
Oh what a day yesterday at the FIRST Lego league (age 9-14) 80 team event, Junior FLL (age 6-9) and 3 day first robotics high schools from as far away as London, Brazil and Far Rockaway at Javits convention center Saturday March 12.To make it clear, there are 3 concurrent events.
FIRST LEGO League was an all-day event on Saturday with 80 teams, including public, charter, private, neighborhood home-schooled teams and for profit orgs where parents pay to enroll their kids on a team. I have seen the public school share of teams drop drastically over the years I have been involved, which spans the years from Harold Levy through Bloomberg and Di Blasio. I will address this issue in another post, especially since Carmen Farina spoke and lamented the fact that the event was not dominated by public schools -- she should look in the mirror if she's looking for a reason.
The high school kids (FRC), who come from many public NYC schools began to arrive Thursday evening to set up their pit areas. Friday was for practice and tuning their robots. Saturday and Sunday was the competition. I went back to the FRC pits on Friday and was surprised to see a team from Far Rockaway HS Campus, the Queens HS for Information, Research and Technology. The students beamed when my pal Tony Homsey told them we were from Rockaway. I asked if they knew Jeff Kaufman who is not teaching socials studies and coding at the school and they were so excited at the mention of his name. Saturday Jeff, who is running on the MORE slate for Exec Bd at Large, did come and we had a great chat with a lot of insight about a small school with a good principal who Jeff admires. In all my years of knowing Jeff I have never heard him say nice things about his principal. This guy must be gold. Jeff introduced me to the coach who also happens to read my School Scope column in The Wave. What a task he has taken on to do this work. The team, which won the FIRST rookie award, is called Birch Bots. Here are some photos I took of the team:
|A team member collecting memos.|
|The participation medals - long time Staten Island coach Ray Cottrell, center|
|Old pal Laura Allen of RoboFun stopped by.|
|Popular every year: Talking robot|
|The kids at the RTC|