The Eyes of a Child

This time of the year, the holidays bring back memories that allow us to see the world, once again, through the eyes of a child. This is not some sentimental side effect of the rituals we go through, but is in many ways the reason they are important. A few moments spent contemplating this over a swirling mug of cocoa can show that seeing the world through the eyes of a child is actually a vital lesson.

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The Future is Theirs

If you are worried about the future of the US or the world, you need to attend a FIRST Robotics Challenge Competition.  Your worries will dissolve into cheers for the moment and tears for the sheer beauty of kids doing amazing things – challenged and coached appropriately.

This year’s challenge isn’t quite the “hockey with robots” that we are used to.  They have to stack bins and put a heavy container on top of them, a feat that challenges them to power great forces with intricate precision.   It takes strategy, planning, and a lot of learning how to use power saws and drills. But the Great River School team 2491 No Mythic is hitting the challenge with great energy and determination. It’s also a lot of fun.

A study came out that says a little more about letting kids go off and do what might seem dangerous, even at an early age. It seems to fit with what I’ve seen at Robotics League.

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An Anxious Spring

It was a long hard Winter. It’s not letting go too easily here in the heartland, with Spring coming in short fits just long enough to give us all hope. But the transition is as bright as the green carpet of grass that covers the park, as pervasive as the smell of rain in the air, and as loud as the excitement along West Seventh Street. Each moment finds its own pace.

My daughter Thryn will graduate from High School in less than a month. Her dreams of hitting the road and finding a life beyond childhood color everything in her attitude now. The dark senioritis that wants to laze the last few moments collapses into anxiety in unpredictable fits of realization. Soon enough it really will be all about her, the desires of every teen made starkly real.

For her doting Dad it’s time to let go. As a parent, I can’t be good at everything.

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Talking to Teens

I’ve had the great pleasure of working with a number of young people recently.  The  Robotics League team at Great River School are a dedicated and smart group of kids with extraordinary skills at times.  They make things happen.

Learning about them as people has been a terrific joy for me, too.  I’ve learned a bit about how to motivate the next generation of adults and what they are capable of.  I’d like to share my experiences and ask your opinions, too.

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Kids Being Kids – Amazing

The main challenge in this year’s FIRST Robotics Challenge is to scoop up a 2-foot yoga ball and shoot it into a goal 6 feet high. The machines that have to do this are designed and built by high school kids, including my son George. Many of them have never done anything like it before. It takes strategy, planning, and a lot of learning how to use power saws and drills. But the Great River School team 2491 No Mythic is hitting the challenge with great energy and determination. It’s also a lot of fun.

My role as a “mentor” is mainly to coach them along, but I also get my hands dirty. I also teach them really bad things like how to strip wires with their teeth. Through it all the robot is coming along. The pneumatic and electrical systems work well with the programming and no one has gotten hurt. It shows what kids can do when they simply get in and do it.

A study came out that says a little more about letting kids go off and do what might seem dangerous, even at an early age. It seems to fit with what I’ve seen at Robotics League.

Continue reading