Not Your Dad’s LEGO

This week my son competes in Clearwater, FL, with his Cayman Prep & High School team, the Cyber Rays. They did this last year, going all the way to the Florida State Championships and gaining an invite to the Florida World’s. The journey starts again this week and they are joined by a rookie team from their school, the Techno Turtles. I’m going to share with you what I found out is the biggest myth of First Lego League robotics!

Lego FLL Trophy

Now. How could something founded by Dean Kamen (of Segway fame) and tied to LEGO, the worlds favourite toy (and I use that term loosely), be based on a myth?

I’ll let you in on the secret…

IT IS NOT ABOUT THE ROBOTS!

Sure, the robots are the hook (the myth). But after doing this for a year I can tell you it is so much more than the hook of the robots that initially gets so many kids involved.

It is about important life skills such as teamwork, cooperation, research, discussion, friendships, overcoming challenges, maintaining energy levels, and the list goes on.

For months the kids prepare their robot from mere loose parts to compete in the mission field. It is the same mission list that over 17,000 teams around the world are doing. They work also on a project, this year on issues surrounding an aging population. Talk about 10-14 year old kids getting outside their comfort zone. And they work on Gracious Professionalism.

It is not all about winning.

It is about how you play the game.

Along the way the kids (and parents) meet some pretty awesome people from all over the world and from every walk of life. The stories of how some teams got to just a qualifier tournament are inspiring. The generosity of strangers is overwhelming.

Our team was lucky enough last year to meet the Mustache Motors, a team from Clearwater, FL, in the very first tournament a year ago. These kids and their parents have become great friends, and have helped our team immeasurably and selflessly. Last year after the tournaments were over the entire team and parents visited us in the Cayman Islands and participated in a demo at the Cyber Rays school.

I can think of no better organization for your school or club to be involved in.

You see, its not about the robot!

Have you heard of First Lego League before or are you involved now? I would love to get comments back from you on your view of the programme and its impact on kids to encourage them in the sciences (and life). Take a moment to write.

photo by: steevithak

I live in the Cayman Islands and I'm married to Christina. We have two incredible children. A serial entrepreneur, I own several businesses in Cayman. I'm currently chairman of the Special Economic Zone Authority, and past president of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, and the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce.

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8 thoughts on “Not Your Dad’s LEGO

  1. David,

    Excellent summary and hello from the frozen North country of South Dakota. I hope you remember us from the World Invitational when our team was “The NXT Generation of Knights”. The kids had to change their team name this year and chose the “Cyber Ninjas” in honor of their association with the “Cyber Rays”. I am sharing your post on my FLL blog at:

    http://brookingsroboticsclub.blogspot.com/

    We even hosted our own regional this year which you can see more of at:

    http://bobcatfll.blogspot.com/

    Best of luck to you and your team for the remainder of the season.

    • Thanks, Tony, and sorry for the delay in posting your comment. I really appreciate you reposting the blog on your site. Our boys got through qualifier to regionals and just got through that to State in a few weeks. They time out this year so we are proud of their accomplishment again in their last run. I will be sure to let them know about the ‘Cyber’ addition to your team name.

  2. What an awesome blog! I work with FRC kids, but having FLL kids starting young is great because they’re the next round of FRC – good luck to your son’s team this year! :)

    • Thanks for your feedback on the blog and FLL. We have no FRC teams here in Cayman … perhaps until next year when our kids age out of FLL.

      The Cyber Rays came away from the weekend with the ‘Project Trophy’, ‘Alliance Team Trophy’, and a coveted ‘golden ticket’ to the regionals on Feb 2 at UCF in Orlando, FL. The Techno Turtles were honoured with ‘Rookie of the Year Trophy’, and the Mustache Motors, our ‘coopition’ friends from Clearwater, FL, were awarded ‘Best Robot Performance Trophy’ and were the overall winner of the qualifying tournament. A great weekend!

  3. David! How beautifully written! In our own home LEGO has taught so much more than just building. Our children’s organizational skills, relationship with each other as siblings, attention to detail in all things (every brick matters) have grown exponentially. We can not sing the praises of LEGO enough. We are looking forward to greater exposure through our local arm of robotics here in Jamaica.