On Friday afternoon, I walk in from work to see four Code Crackers team members around the table and the robot in pieces. This was not a peaceful experience for me.
Our teams have a concept called Open Table. It is times with team members can get together to catch up or get ahead outside of planned meetings. These meetings are youth led and managed, I don’t even attend but will check in if I am around.
After getting through the shock of the robot in pieces, I asked what is going on. Turns out one of the youth was pulling the robot out of it storage case and dropped it. He was unaware it was connected to the charging cable and it slipped out of his hand. After the dropped, the robot was fine but one of the motors was not working. I don’t have the full picture of how this happened but it did.
The next logical step for the team was to replace the motor, hence the robot being in pieces on the table. I was frustrated at first. How this happened made no sense to me. I got even more frustrated when I used another robot to test the motor to find it worked just fine. The boys where also frustrated. I started asking questions, did you test the connections? Did you try a new cable? Why didn’t you call me? Seeing they were feeding off my emotions, I realized I needed to take a deep breath and calm down.
After calming down, I realized they did the right thing,s which made me proud. I don’t think they tested the connections and suspect it was a loose or bad cable. When it was dropped, everyone was called in the room. Two were working on research. They did some trouble shooting and came to conclusion it was a bad motor. Before replacing the motor, they took lots of pictures so they could rebuild the robot after they took it apart. The robot works and they finished up their program.
I taught them the Capital Girl’s Kiddycat rule, when you handle the robot, hold it like a cat. One hand under the robot and another holding the robot. I also apologized for my emotions. I did not loose my cool but you could tell I was frustrated with them. I told the youth that dropped the robot that from now on, he is the person who should handle the robot. He knows what can happened and will take the precautions so it does not happen again.
We did not take a picture of the robot in pieces. After the experience, I wished we had. The featured image is from Sunday. I was burned out from a Girl Scout camp out and had the boys work on their own. When I came downstairs to check on them, I discovered my son had taped a blanket to the wall to block the sun. It was interfering with their sensors. When the tape did not work, he used my wood claps. I admire their innovation and luckily for my son, the tape did not mess up the walls.
I felt guilty about my first reaction. I do think it was an accident but at first I thought they were playing around and dropped it. I know how much time they have spent and what this season means to them. This is their last FLL year, they really want to do well and are putting in the time and energy to be very competitive. To have it collapse two weeks before tournament would be a terrible thing. In the end, I think it was a great experience for them and for me. Yes, they missed the fact it was most likely as simple as a connection or cable but they did the right things. They documented the robot and worked together to figure out. They showed their independence, team work and core values, which is what it is all about.