Friday, January 6, 2017
SUMO Preliminary Competitions
This year we decided to hold school-wide SUMO competitions prior to the district-wide competition. Kids worked intensely for a long period of time on these robots, so we wanted to maximize the amount of time they could use them. Yesterday, BMS students had their chance to try out their creations in the ring. This prelim also gave the teams one last chance to make small enhancements to the robots and their programs. This short video gives you a taste of what the competition is like.
Some of my favorite moments from yesterday's competition came from observing and listening to the teams. There was a lot of excited energy, but also tremendous focus and purpose. Problem solving and adjusting small aspects of the robots can make significant improvements in performance. Teams adjusted positioning of sensors, physical connections on the chassis, threshold levels in parts of the programs, and even the gearing ratios between the motors and the axles. One all-girl team of novices that finished near the top of the heap told me, "We were sure we were going to lose. We can't believe we almost won!"
Think about that for a moment.
Three 7th grade girls with very little experience in building or programming persevered together, surmounting continuous frustrations to finish in the top three. What is their takeaway from an experience like this? I imagine they have a deeper understanding of the power of taking risks, collaborating, working hard, being determined, learning from failures, and not losing hope. Incidentally, the top three teams were all girls!
We will hold the Woolwich preliminary competition next Wednesday afternoon, and then the district-wide event Thursday night, 1/12 from 6:30 to 8:30. We hope to see you there. It's going to be great!