I know it is a new school year, but wow, what an end to last year! Our Jedi Engineers went to the World Festival in Houston, Texas and took home a third place Core Values - Teamwork award! Then they went to the International Championship in Bath and took home the 2nd place Robotic Design - Programming! Incredible!
The outstanding element of all of this is not that they achieved so much, but that they achieved it after they were initially disqualified at their own Qualifier! These students were the prefect storm. They were determined, always displayed integrity and never gave up hope. As a teacher, I could not have been part of a better team. They were a delight from the start.
Five of these six students had gone to the LEGOLAND Invitational when they were in 6th grade. They saw how much they had to learn and wanted to grow. They had taken STEM in 6th grade. They all came back as 7th graders to the after school robotics teams and took Advanced STEM in 7th grade. Then they came together to act as one team in 8th grade. The Advanced STEM class was cancelled, so the majority of them took Coding as 8th graders. They took all of these opportunities to increase their skills. They set a goal as a team to advance past the Northern Nevada Championships. I at that point, set a goal to not stress about all of our data/administrative expectations, but to support these kids in getting as far as they wanted to go!
When their robot failed at the Qualifier I have never seen a more disappointed group of students. They broke my heart. Yet, as sad as they were, they were the only team that stayed and cleaned up our school. I had two other teams participate. One of those teams advanced to Championships and they did not stay to help. I was so disappointed in my other teams, but so proud of the Jedis! What they didn't know at the time was, that our Northern Nevada FIRST LEGO League representatives were so proud of the integrity they displayed they submitted them to the International competition. The FIRST reps all felt that these students would be great representatives of Nevada.
Then, that these kids took their robot home over Christmas break and rebuilt and reprogrammed it to be successful with no hope of advancing just inspired me! I was so proud of them, I admit I made a pain of myself trying to get them in to the Northern Nevada Championships as an alternate. They had won 2nd place Core Values at our Qualifier, so they were prepared in every aspect other than their robot. Their project was amazing! Finally we received the news that we were in the Championship! The kids and myself were all over the top excited!
From that point on the kids practiced like crazy! They researched their project to make animals more comfortable in shelters by creating adaptable shelters. They met manufacturers! They participated in Outreach! They were excited and they were ready! They went to the Northern Nevada Championship at UNR and won the Championship! That is where they received the invitation to Houston for the World Festival! These kids had already surpassed their dreams!
It was not long after that the students found out that they were also invited to the Bath competition. They were going to Texas and the the UK! Let the fundraising start! There were car washes, yard sales, an Applebees Flapjack Fundraiser, school dance, free dress, Olive Garden luncheon, etc. Kohl's Cares was there every step of the way. Tisha Cook from our local store was one of our biggest supporters that made all of the difference!
The World Festival in Houston, Texas was AMAZING! What a rush! All of the students, coaches, parents, sponsors! People from so many countries, all getting along. Our politicians can learn so much from these students. The team next to us in the pits had kids that were not granted Visas. Watching those students Skype with their teammates at home was such a powerful learning experience for our kids! Seeing that emotion and the impact that political decision had on other kids their age was more of a life lesson than any text book or lecture could provide.
The learning experiences in travelling to the UK were so numerous. Not only did they meet and interact with people from all over the world, they stayed in the dorms at Bath University. They also were able to travel around London, visit Stonehenge, walk through Windsor Castle, visit the Abbey at Bath and so much more! It was a trip of a lifetime. The students were a blast and we all gained so much from the trip! As a teacher, it truly felt like it should have been the mic drop on my career! I will always hold a special place in my heart for the 2016 - 2017 Jedi Engineers!
I am a wife, mother, educator and independent business woman! Crafting, gardening, reading, fly fishing, hiking, kayaking and camping in our vintage trailer fills my free time. Living gluten free, (for the most part), keeps my ulcerative colitis and migraines from ruling my life! I believe the key to happiness is to live a balanced life with passion that brings kindness and positive change to those around us.
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