Because the season simply isn’t long enough, several members of Team 3061 had the pleasure of being mentors for a FIRST LEGO League, or FLL, team during the off-season. For the months leading up to the FRC season, students Andrew, Michael, Sean, Brian, Arpan, and Cari would devote several hours every Saturday getting students aged 9 to 14 get ready to take on the world of engineering.
FLL is a very different tournament than FRC. Their competition includes not only a robot challenge, but also a research project and development of the core values of the participants. The Huskies worked directly with many participants of FLL for their research, construction, and programming. As mentors, it was their job to not simply do the work for the team, but rather give them the background and the resources to imagine solutions of their own. This involved a lot of vocabulary, math, trial-and-error, and encouragement.
In the mechanical, the kids had the wildest ideas—better than Sean’s and Cari’s solutions often times! They came up with manipulators that would work without motors, quickest routes for the most points, and clever arms that would have an excellent mechanical advantage. Programming created elaborate ‘treks’ that would take the totally LEGO bot to all reaches of the board. The final solution to this year’s problem for Senior Solutions was a remote operated arm for technology interface and lifting. These young minds thought at a million miles an hour, and unfortunately ran that fast too, and by the end of the season had great memories and fun times.
At competition, they did as well as a rookie team is expected. There are always unforeseen issues and the thrill of the crowd tends to bring out the nerves in everyone. But pulling in in the middle of scores, Team 250 certainly gained some standing in the FLL world.
As for the Huskie mentors, they learned and evolved throughout the season, too. Working with young rookies forces one to think about the fundamental reason why something should be done or considered. Mentors are mainly informed guides. These mentors learned the importance of considering other’s opinions, thinking out potential solutions, and working together as a team.