On Saturday, we organized the FIRST Lego League (FLL) Kick-off. The event was attended by team members from Sibling Rivalry, PhoenixCraft, the Radical Rubik’s Squad, Hydrogen 1, and the Maniacs Mechanics. We made sure that new teams get a feeling for what is to come and how to prepare for competition from kids who have experienced the same thing, many of whom have done it multiple times.
We offered many different classes, showcases, and time for each team to get going on their robots. We started the day with multiple different classes including a building class, a programming class, a core values class, and a project class. Both the building and programming classes were divided into a first level for beginners and a second level covering more advanced techniques.
In the building class, kids learned how to design a robot properly and build it well. In the programming class, kids learned how to use the Mindstorm development environment, based on LabView, and program their robots to do simple and complicated tasks. The core values class introduced FIRST’s core values and how to demonstrate them. Finally, in the project class, kids learned how to present a project and how to make it successful. All four of the classes are taught by current FLL participants and FLL alumni.
While planning the event, we realized that even if we can educate the kids as well as possible, they would still need guidance from their mentors, and so we decided to include a “Coach’s Corner”. This class was dedicated to teaching mentors how to guide their teams. Every mentor has a different leading style, but there are still some aspects which stay the same.
At the end of the kick-off we provide time dedicated to the teams, where they can just build robots and program them. It is a time to let teams apply the skills that they just learned and to make sure that they get it. It is also a time for us, as FLL alumni, to help guide both mentors and team members alike.
To make sure that teams get a variety of information and advice, we included a couple of presentations for everybody attending the event. We usually invite guest speakers. At this kick-off we had “The Avengers” come in and talk about their tournament winning project. We also had FRC alumni talk about FIRST in general.
This year we had a couple of firsts, including, the first time we did the kick-off at Longfields Davidson Heights the RoboRavens’ base of operations. We also beat the previous year’s record of people attending the event. By organizing this event we encourage the creation of new teams and help them get interested in STEM as well as develop new competitors for both, the FIRST Tech Challenge and the FIRST Robotics Competition. Due to the success of this kick-off, we plan to make it an annual event.