Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Robotics Scrimmage

I've mentioned that Miss Abigail is programming robots these days. She is participating in a robotic tournament sponsored by the First Lego League. The challenge for this year involved growing and safely transporting food to the marketplace. Surprisingly, this activity has dominated our extra time and almost overtaken our creativity for a couple of months now. The tournament is coming up on Saturday and then I really feel like I will be a free woman again. This always happens with "extracurricular" homeschool activities. They seem to take over even the corners of my creative brain and I can't get back to anything else until the project is complete.

The picture shows Abigail's team participating in a practice scrimmage with her team. Four other teams (out of many, many more coming on Saturday) were part of this activity. Abigail's assignment has been to program the robot to come up to that dispenser by the blue ball, trip the arm, collect the little Lego "bacteria" in the dispenser and bring them back to the base. You may be able to see that there are fish in the way. It was not strategic to make the robot go around the fish, so she relies on another team member to get them out of the way in a mission that precedes hers. I think the kids are all having fun and I know Abigail has learned a lot by this whole experience.

Most importantly, robots and computer programming are so different from anything Abigail usually does. This is really why I wanted Abigail to participate. Abigail's imagination means the world to her. She absolutely loves to read, to write and create places and situations in her mind. She recreates these either in her writing, drawings or with props. Although Abigail could easily imagine how the robot could complete the missions, and could immediately think of lovely possibilities for creating and staging stories about the robot, the logical, methodical, reasoning process of learning to program the robot has been more difficult.  And she did learn how to program the robot! Amazing to me.  Her two fabulous coaches have done wonders, I think. Another valuable aspect of this experience has been for Abigail to confront logical problems that she didn't know how to solve. Robots don't always do what you think you told them to do. Even now, after many successful mission runs, the robot is veering slightly off course and who knows why this is happening. I certainly can't help her and the whole experience has been kind of hard for me, as well.

There has also been the "team" aspect of the experience. There are six other kids on her team and everything has been decided and assigned largely by voting. This is a new experience for a lonely only child, who is very capable and accomplished and used to doing things on her own --albeit guided by a strong, tiger-ish mother ;o}. Having to seriously rely on and sometimes wait on others has also been a new and interesting experience.

So, on to the tournament. I'll let you know how it turns out.


  1. We've seen demonstrations of these competitions before ~ lots of fun! I hope she enjoys this "different" adventure!

  2. And I hope you enjoy your upcoming adventure as well! I don't do well with noise and excitement and worry and stress, but Abigail seems to take the chaos in stride and really loves being with the other kids in an exciting situation. Go figure, we're all so different, aren't we?

  3. Wow, that sounds super cool and super fun :) :) Keep us updated on how things turn out ;) :) I never got to program robots in school!!! Very fun :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)


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