Today’s post is from Taylor Whisenant, FIRST® LEGO® League Program Delivery Partner and 2022 FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award presented by Qualcomm Team Learning Facilitator

In June, I had the privilege of volunteering at my first ever FIRST® LEGO® League Global Innovation Award Ceremony. As the event’s Team Learning Facilitator, I got to help teams connect with each other and learn from each other’s experiences from this season. As a teacher, I feel that this was the perfect job for me, and I had a BLAST!

Teams were divided into Learning Cohorts, composed of two or three teams each. These groups engaged with each other in a variety of ways during the event, but in their Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) Sessions, the cohorts had deep conversations about the ins and outs of their Innovation Projects. We started each session with a “This or That” game. (Would you rather be able to control fire or control water?) This silly activity got the teams comfortable with talking to each other and helped show them some things they have in common. Then, I shared the Socratic Method, a format for cooperative discussions, with the teams. I framed each session in the same way – every team in attendance was there due to their stellar work on the Innovation Project, and there was a lot they could all learn from each other!

Teams generated questions for each other about their Innovation Projects, sat in the conversation circle, and started their discussions. Then, the real magic happened! Team members who entered the room quiet and nervous confidently asked and answered questions about their work. I had so much fun being part of these learning experiences! (I feel like I know a lot more about delivery truck routes, organ transportation, and packing materials now after these sessions!).

After one session, I messaged the administrators at my school, telling them that I had just facilitated an incredible discussion amongst young innovators from Norway, Brazil, and the U.S. – where else could I get this kind of opportunity? Over the course of the event, I witnessed amazing displays of the FIRST® Core Values, community, collaboration, and, of course, innovation. I hope to volunteer again next year, and I cannot wait to see what these teams innovate next!

Learn more about innovation at FIRST.