The team democratically declared that coaches had to write an “About Me” post as well, so here I am!
This is my second year helping with the team as an assistant coach, and I enjoy it immensely. It really surprised me at first that the First Lego League robotics competition was so much more than building the Lego robot and programming its tasks. It also really surprised me that doing a team project could be as much fun as the robotics side of it! Who knew!
I am a computer engineer by trade, and originally thought I could help the team with the computers and the programming. Well, the kids don’t really need a lot of help programming anymore and they seem to know more about the computers than I do these days, so I have tried to teach them some advanced topics like subroutines, variables, the importance of documentation, source code control, and being organized in general — which is pretty hard to do when seven team members are all working on the same project files! This year, I’ve taken the lead on the project, and am having fun digging into FDA recalls, and the use of QR codes to speed the process.
To me, core values means watching these guys figure out something new, applying it at robot team, and then finding a way to apply it in real life. Last year at the competition, I watched in awe as our strongest, most vocal team members graciously deferred judges’ questions to the less aggressive, less confident team members, helping them, prompting them. I was watching them lift each other up, and let me tell you, it nearly brought me to tears.
To be part of a team means that sometimes we don’t agree, and sometimes we have to do something we’d rather not, but we do it anyway, cheerfully. That is a life lesson right there. So many times in life at work adults have to do something unpleasant, and we do it with a smile! The kids learn this too, at every single meeting.
So thank you FLL, for the opportunity to teach these life lessons to these very bright kids. Thank you for the opportunity to have fun at the competition. Thank you Pittsburgh Robotics Center for hosting our event. We are having a blast with it this year, and as we know from the FLL core values, when we have fun — everyone wins!
Mary Beth Renze
Batteries Not Include, co-coach