How FLL Teams have filled this volunteer with hope


2013 has been a year of natural disasters. It seems that every week our news headlines are filled with yet another major event. From Typhoon Haiyan to the Sichuan earthquake, severe floods, massive wildfires, tornadoes and storms have disrupted the lives of millions of people worldwide. Sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and I hear people asking: How can we prepare? How can we stay safe? How can we rebuild?

Back in May of 2012, a group of topic experts and community representatives were asked to gather at FIRST headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire to discuss this year’s FLL Challenge – Nature’s Fury. For two days, I was fortunate (and honored!) to be a part of this amazing Challenge Advisory Team as we discussed the topic, went over key questions and identified potential problems. At the end of the workshop there was a definite consensus among the panel as to the topic’s importance. As the past year has unfolded, it’s relevance has become even more apparent. However, throughout it all I couldn’t help but have a sense of hope. If any group could tackle this crucial topic, I knew that our amazing FLL teams would be able to rise to the challenge.

This past weekend my expectations were more than met. For 2 days, volunteering as a Presentation Judge at several FLL Qualifiers, I had the opportunity to observe teams present their innovative solutions to Nature’s Fury. Some of the solutions were practical, others were highly imaginary and creative, but -to be honest- the end solutions weren’t what confirmed my hope that these teams successfully tackled the topic. What mattered was that these kids didn’t just ask the questions we all ask after a natural disaster – they had been proactive. They had gone out and researched the facts and possibilities, they had talked with experts both near and far, and they had reached out to their communities to share invaluable findings. By doing this project, these teams had made a difference – and will no doubt make a difference – for all of us.