Thursday, March 8, 2012

Teamwork and Volunteering- New York City FIRST LEGO League

Volunteering has always been a part of my life whether it was raising money for charities, tutoring children at women’s shelters, doing home maintenance at a halfway house, or caroling for the elderly. It is very rewarding to be a part of a community and to lend a helping hand when people and organizations are in need. I feel that sometimes in order to succeed, teamwork is necessary and your contribution can really make a difference.

Scoring and Ranking Station
This year, I started volunteering for New York City FIRST LEGO League. FLL is a program that introduces students as young as the age of six all the way up to middle school into the world of robotics. Through robots, students explore math and science concepts as they act like engineers to create solutions and solve missions that are relatable to modern day issues.

This year’s FLL theme is Food Factor. Each team of up to 10 participants had to build a LEGO robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS technology. The robot is programmed and controlled by a little computer chip. It’s all very high tech and possible to master. No prior technical skills required! The main challenge in the competition was to complete various missions such as pest control, oblige to health standards, and to harvest crops all through these robots. Each team had two and a half minutes to complete as many missions as possible.

The Robot Game and robot in action:

The event requires a large team of volunteers. There is an emcee, sign in table, cleaning crew, referees, time keepers, etc. I volunteered to be a Score Keeper and Field Power Controller. My job was to take the score cards from the referees and enter in each team’s winnings to populate the rankings. It is a time sensitive role and one of high pressure especially when there can be as many as 25 teams and multiple rounds. Everyone wants to know their score and rank. Plus the scores are projected live on the main screen.

I was amazed by the composure, enthusiasm, and intellect of the students. This competition exposes the students to real life scenarios where team work, communication, critical thinking, and leadership skills must be utilized and fostered. There is a lot of support for the teams as mentors, parents, classmates, mascots, and friends cheered on in the sidelines.

Robo Pandas
Food Fighters
The winning team of each borough gets to go on to the next level and eventually there is a larger competition with teams from all over the world. The next big event will be at the Jacob K. Javits center in Manhattan on March 16-18. This event will host a career fair, New York City FIRST Robotics Competition, Tech Challenge Championship, LEGO League Championship, and JrFIRST LEGO League Exposition.

There is a need for plenty of volunteers. If you would like to help out and volunteer, please go to the FIRST website to learn about the volunteer roles and follow the volunteer sign up instructions to get registered. Be a part of the FLL community.


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