Wow, school holidays in Australia are already over! (Or, as my fellow Americans would say “Spring Vacation.”) Instead of this being what most people would call “holidays”, I have had a whirlwind, FIRST-filled, hectic version of them.
One of the things I did was work with my FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team to run a RoboCamp. We spent several days working with younger students (in years 4 to 6). We had a great time teaching them the basics of LEGO robotics and showing them how much fun science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) can be. As one of the parents put it, we did “maths without it being maths!” From becoming “Robotic Knights” to working on the Body Forward missions, the camp was filled with fun, excitement, and learning for students and mentors alike.
One of my favorite bits of FLL is it teaches students life-skills without their knowledge. All the students at the camp were put into groups of 2 or 3. They had only one robot. From there, they had 3 days to get to know each other, figure out how to work together, and to top it all off build and program an FLL robot! Yet, each and every group managed to do that. It was remarkable to me how quickly they developed the necessary teamwork skills and became friends.
Most people assume at camps like this, the students are the ones doing the learning. After all, they are the ones who don’t know how to build or program a robot or work on a team. What was interesting to me about this camp was that the FRC mentors (in years 9-12) learned many skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. As one of the mentors put it:
“It was a great way to give back to FRC and FIRST in general, and hopefully pave the way for more FLL/FRC members in the future! It was fun and inspirational to see such young kids come up with ideas that we wouldn’t of necessarily thought of and it was great to meet and be with such a diverse group of people.”
It was a time I will never forget. Now I’m looking forward to next year’s camp!