At the regional FIRST Robotics competition in Minneapolis, the Czech team had some problems. Far from home, they had to improvise to get their robot on the field in time to compete. Fortunately, our team had a big supply of encoders purchased directly from China, well ahead of the long lead-time for parts like this. It was nice to help.
Posting pictures and stories about the event, my facebook feed also contains people convinced that kids from the same generation couldn’t possibly organize a march on Washington. There had to be others, adults who made it happen. The kids just have to be nothing more than tools.
I’ve given up telling people like that what I’ve learned from this generation, so very much like the last one to grow up in a Depression. It seems as plain as sunrise to me. You ask these kids to storm the beaches at Normandy, I’m pretty sure they will take freakin’ Normandy. More to the point, they’re willing to put in the work it takes to create a world where you don’t have to storm the beaches.
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.
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.
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.
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.