I had to skip robotics today, which breaks my heart, given the rapid approach of the Bronx qualifying tournament, but sometimes you have to be sensible and deal with your own stuff first. But in the last few weeks, I’ve seen two awesome computer programmers – both girls, coincidentally – emerge, along with a strong building team (they aren’t the most amazing builders but they stick with it). Our robot continues to be something less than robust in its design; “frail” might actually be a better word! But they have to learn by doing. Meanwhile, these two girls, the core of my programming team, are such naturals at it that I am constantly amazed. They have the attention span to sit down and think things through step-by-step, and we’re making a point of going to the playing field, figuring out a plan for what the robot will have to do, and then going back to the computer and writing it. When I taught them how to debug, in a matter of minutes they’d worked that into their routine. They are exceptionally careful about such matters as wiring the blocks together (I realize that sentence made no sense to those unfamiliar with Robolab). When I tell them I think there’s a problem in their program, and encourage them to go back and look at it one block at a time, they not only get right down to work, but they usually spot the problem and know what to do to fix it.
Now if only my research team were getting more done. In some ways, their task is the hardest. They are supposed to do an energy audit. We have not been able to geg a meeting with our school’s head custodian. They are kind of spinning their wheels because there’s only so much background reading you can do while waiting for the nitty-gritty details about your own building. They don’t know what they don’t know, largely because their world experience in the area of electricity and energy use is so limited. I am not great at helping them, either. Plus it’s a slightly less focused, more immature group, who will end up fighting over markers, writing a chart, tearing it down over something tiny, starting again, and not really accomplishing anything for an hour and a half. Any experienced coaches have advice on helping the kids with the research project?