Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's In The Crate

Time's Up!
And that is the official end of Build Season.
Six weeks of late nights, and pizzas. Six weeks of design, design, design. Six weeks of manufacturing parts, debating strategy, cleaning the shop, silkscreening T-shirts, sewing plushies, looking for contributions, training new members...

It is all a bLurR.
Especially after last night.
Especially for mentors, teachers, and team members that were actually doing the work.

With only about sixteen hours left, after school on Monday, the team kicked in to high gear for an all night push toward completion. Yes, after school, and before classes today.

A student led team.
Designing a robot from the gears up.
Students in high school, with regular classes and homework loads, in addition to running a marketing and business model.
Students manufacturing parts, bringing components and wiring together.
Mentors, teachers, parents... sharing their knowledge, offering their support.

Robotics is amazing. I know I have said a lot of this before, but it simply cannot be overstated. This team represents leadership, innovation, ingenuity, perseverance, dedication and creativity. The students do not hand the reins over to able mentors, they do not send away for a shiny robot kit with assembly instructions, they do not surrender.

They hold each other up, respectfully making the most of each members' skills. They look for solutions, make ends meet, and find answers.

Robotics is a family. Robotics is an exchange of knowledge and skills between generations, between teachers and students. A two way exchange of knowledge and respect.

Robotics is late nights, cooking for 40, or 30, or 20, or 60. It's drop-off and pick-up, and knowing that our children are part of something that is very, very good.

Robotics is being part of a team of bright, generous, dedicated, intelligent and flexible people... willing to lose sleep, willing to stay the course.

Robotics is messy.
It takes thick skin, humor, an appetite for pizza, brownies, orange slices and metal shop grime.

I took snacks about 7 PM. Maria and I brought some chips and organic fruit juice popsicles. Geoff was in the middle of the shop with his crew of newly minted freshmen programmers. Alex was getting ready to work on the gear box. Maria and I hung with marketing, took some pictures and made a list of what provisions were needed for later.

I returned to the metal shop at about 9 PM, and this time I brought sliced oranges and sliced carrots. I checked on Geoff. I checked on Alex. I took more pictures. Dinner the sequel was being finished up, and donuts were delivered.

At 10:40 PM I was back at the metal shop to bring Geoff his coat, and some other necessities. To warn him to stay away from the donuts. I also brought a folding mat and a sleeping bag... two vaguely comforting pieces for anyone that might need a nap. Everyone was in good spirits, going strong. Some students were squeezing in Catcher In the Rye assignments.

Some students were simply squeezed. Looks like the robot is in good hands. Many good hands.

William and Max kept Maria safe and happy, when I ran these little missions to Robotics. By the time I got home she was asleep, Max was reading in bed, and William was playing in the Mud.

My phone rang at 1:30 AM. "I think I am ready to come home," Alex said politely, with hints of nervous exhaustion. The metal shop was still quite full and many hands were on the chassis, testing the tower, adjusting a piston, bringing parts and ideas together. I brought Alex home, so he could do his homework.

School begins before eight in the morning, and when I woke-up at seven, I jumped into my jeans and hustled back to the metal shop to collect stuff, and check pulses. All those moving parts, boxes, tools, jackets, bodies, bedrolls, feathers and paint sets had to be cleared out, and students had to get to class. Bagels and coffee were on hand. Geoff had just left for home.

So... the robot gets sent to the arena of the first regional competition. Whatever the team built is what they will find on competition day, and whatever is missing they will have to figure out in the next nine days. It may be the end of the build season, but this is not the end of Robotics. And marketing... marketing is as busy as ever. Note to self: Gotta put some time in the plushie factory.

Do the math, save the world.
I want a nap.


judy in ky said...

This whole thing is very cool. Yes, they are a part of something very, very good. What great experience. I love seeing it.

mtnchild said...

This is so very inspirational, to see our next generation making something of themselves!

Natalie, you need to keep track of some of these adult kids to see where and what they are doing in 10 years!

Get some rest!!

Liz said...

I'm in awe of people who can do this. Mostly b/c I cant even figure out how to change a sim card between phones. :)

Jennifer said...

Love all this. Love, love, love it. All of it.

"Do the math, save the world." Is that from something, or from your own brilliant self? Love it.

Natalie said...

Judy, Yvette, Liz, Jennifer and Delia: Thank you. This time is challenging and inspiring. Our family participates and contributes as much as possible... and your comments recharge our batteries. Thank you for your interest and caring... we appreciate the support.