February 10, 2015

DNC Dynamite!

Last weekend, Does Not Compute traveled to The University of Waterloo to compete against forty other teams in the Western Provincial Championships of the First Lego League (read the first part of the story here).




The FLL's mission is "to inspire young people to pursue studies and careers in the fields of science, technology and engineering... our vision is of a world in which young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes... "



It's a FANTASTIC program for young people (although if I'm honest, anything that gets them off the screens is a desirable thing).  

DNC was riding high from their second place finish in London in November, and they had been fine tuning the robot since then. So it was with excitement and anticipation that we descended on Waterloo last Friday night.  

I'll admit, I was not thrilled to rise at 6:15 on Saturday morning, after spending a hot and tedious night in a double bed at the Discomfort Inn (it was a total sauna when we arrived; we had to crank open the window for some cold air).  Our room was located at the very rear of the building.  We could not have been farther from our car.  My fitbit was happy.  

We started the day with a greasy breakfast from McD's.  The kids were happy, me not so much.  

Upon our arrival at the university, we found the doors to the gym to be locked.  Picture a huge crowd of nutty kids and their keyed-up parents, who are all carrying robot flotsam and jetsam, jammed up against a wall.  It was a mosh pit of sorts, I suppose.  Thankfully, the wait was not long and everyone eventually made their way in.  

This was the scene enroute to the "pits", which is where everyone dumped their things (robots, Lego, competition project boards, food and drink, coats et cetera):  


The blue table on the left is where the organizers sat, and the competition tables, staffed by the refs, are in the middle area, which was off bounds to spectators.  It looks like no one is attending the event because everyone was in the pits (not pictured), and it was just after 7:30 in the morning.  

Rather wisely, I thought, I avoided the pits for most of the day, and hung out on the bleachers from 7:30am until 6:15pm.   The bleachers were completely dodgy and completely uncomfortable.  I was sure that someone was going to fall over / down, especially because many of the kids were leaping up and down the "stairs" like goats.  Have they no fear?   
There were giant gaps inbetween the rows of seats and I was certain that we would lose something (Gwen?).  As it turns out, Gwen managed to remain upright, but we did lose her coat (a little gremlin hand passed it up to us; the kids liked hanging out beneath the bleachers) and Maria's purse tumbled through a hole, dumping everything in it onto the floor, many feet below.  Another gremlin helped her out.

Here we are knitting away merrily, shortly before the purse incident:


I'm attempting to finish a shrug that I began in 2011, while Maria is pumping out a poncho for her robodaughter:




Back in the pits, I found a poster of the forty teams in the competition.  Can you locate the winsome DNC?  

No?

Let me help you out.  Third row from the top, fifth photo from the left.  :-)




Here is DNC in the pits, at one of the practice tables in their vivid green tees.  


Every team at the competition had cool shirts and/or accessories.  Before the competition proper began, I toured around and snapped pictures of folks that I thought looked interesting and/or stylish.

The snazzy and smiley Phonetics wore large puzzle pieces around their necks featuring a picture of a fellow teammate.  Not only do they look hip, but they really understand the concept of team-building and collaboration (the Phonetics were the top dogs in the competition.  Oops, I gave it away early :-)



The Blue Tacos' mascot was a kid, presumably a younger sibling, who was dressed in a hilarious taco costume.  I didn't get a picture of the taco tyke - damn!

all tacos had blue hair

The Mindcrap gang looked very cool in their all white ensemble. 



Their project posited that Minecraft could improve the way Grade 6 students learn Math:

 

I am not sure that Mindcraft is "the answer".  

What I do know is that while Nathanimal is on Mindcrap, slaying the other mindcrappers with his giant sword, there are not many, if any, mathematical computations going on.    

Team Lego My Lego, also from London, wore fuzzy Viking helmets.  I took a picture of this kid at the London competition and he remembered me.  What a cutie!




I was very interested in Coach Ingrid's earrings:


I said, "Are those intestines?"

To which my husband replied, "Oh yes.  There's the large intestine, the colon and the anus."

His eyes may have rolled out of his head.

As Ingrid is a professor of psychology, it would make sense that that is a brain hanging from her frontal lobe - ha ha, punny - and NOT a digestive tract.  I laughed very long and hard.

Here are some of our country's future leaders, doing what they do best.

Critical Analysis (this portion of the blog brought to you by Lay's):


Staffing:



Brainstorming by putting their heads together.  These two will end up in a thinktank, I know it:


Practising Mindfulness: 



Structural Design / Engineering:



Assembly and Quality Control:



Managing Inflation:



While DNC did not fare as well in Waterloo as they did in London (they came 22nd out of 40 teams), it is important to recognize that the kids put a lot into the competition, and that they did an awesome job.  They spent two-and-a-half hours weekly (Fridays after school, much groaning from my child) during the months of September through February, which was a huge commitment.  They built and programmed their robot, they wrote and delivered a presentation, and they gained valuable skills (team-building, collaboration, cooperation and respect for others).

I am very proud of their efforts!




Until next year, I will leave you with the team's theme song:  TNT by AC DC.

DNC, DYNAMITE!