Tuesday, November 30, 2010

JrFLL 2010

The Junior FLL teams have been hard at work so far this season. Each year I coach up to two Junior teams for the JrFLL Expo that will take place the last Saturday of January. Dan runs the event at the university where he works and an afternoon of family fun is had by all.

I use the homeschool co-op as a place to host team practices and hold the class. JrFLL is open to all kids 6-9 years old. This year's theme is biomedical engineering. So, the kids had to research things that help people- something their doctor might use and then depict that in a LEGO model and tell about it in a poster. Each model has to have a moving part and a simple machine.

Typically, I review simple machines with the kids and help the teams with some team building exercises and some team builds before letting them lose on the projects. This year I had a special challenge with a class heavily loaded with 6 year olds! However, they all stuck in there and we finished the class with some handsome models!

These displays were set up for our Co-op Night last week (the last celebration of all things co-op that happens the evening of the last class session of our co-op). I will gather the teams together one last time in mid-January to give out the team shirts and make sure the kids remember their projects and can talk about them. Then the Expo, with evaluators asking them about their work, will be the last Saturday of January. This year none of my own kids are on the team. I8 opted for Pioneer Living class instead, but we have plans for J5 and I8 next year!

Team Fire Spitters worked on a model of an arm with a hand. Their area of research was on syringes and their moving part is a plunger that moves in and out of it's barrel on the arm. Their simple machine is a pulley that moves the plunger up and down.

Team Blue Wolves concentrated on hearing and hearing aids. They built a model of a hearing aid with a moving part being the gear that turns it on and off.

JrFLL is sponsored by the FIRST Organization.  The vision and mission of FIRST are as follows:
"To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders."
Dean Kamen, Founder

Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

The cornerstones of the Jr.FLL program are its Core Values, which emphasize contributions of others, friendly sportsmanship, learning, and community involvement.

We ask that everyone affiliated with every team honor these values.
  • We are a team.
  • We do the work. Our coaches and mentors help us learn, but we find the answers ourselves.
  • We share our experiences and discoveries with others.
  • We are helpful, kind, and show respect when we work, play, and share. We call this Gracious Professionalism.
  • We are all winners.
  • We have fun.

Dan heard about FIRST when Dean Kamen, the founder, came to give a talk at the university. He is the inventor of the Segway (which peaked Dan's interest), but he really came to encourage the university to work with FIRST. A few years later when they had a theme directly related to what Dan does in the lab, we began our relationship with LEGO FIRST. We started by sponsoring some teams and creating the Expo event all the while hoping to start an FLL team which we were successful in doing (an update on the FLL team next).

For those interested in starting up a team, I encourage you to visit the FIRST website and learn about where the events are near to you and how you can get a team started. They do sell a special kit, but if you already have loads of LEGOS and a way to have a moving part, you only need to pay the $25 registration fee. If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me!


Anonymous said...

I'll forward this great post on to our JrFLL team in town, the BOCKHEADS. :) Great group of kiddos! Thanks for your posts!!!

Kori said...

Thank you for the information! I was able to reach our AR coordinator and am going to try to go to the AR competition this Saturday to see what that looks like. I have lots of people interested here and am hoping to start a team next year! I am guessing it all makes more sense when you see the actual materials. Because I don't know that I could have come up with the great projects your kids did. :-) And team building activities? Where do you come up with that stuff?! :-)

Heather said...

Kori some of the team building activities come with your registration information.

I just made a lot of them up as well. The idea is to get kids working together as well as possible! I also have a few tools in my back pocket from my classroom teaching days. I pulled out some of my Spencer Kagain cooperative learning books for the occasion!