For the last 4 years, her older sister Julia has participated in First Lego League Robotics. An awesome, fun and very competitive Robotics competition. For the last 2 years, I have coached Julia's 4-H team because, well, no one else wanted to. lol This year, our team was a small group of 2 - Julia and her friend Rich. As we started our practices, I noticed Hope wanted to be around the action. Now usually, Hope will go about her own play when Julia's friends are over the house. Yet this time she wanted to be with everyone.
At first, we all thought is was cute how she started building some of the mission parts, but soon we realized she was doing so much work, I would have to list her as a team member! As a team member, she would have to participate in all 3 aspects of FLL - Robot game, Core Values & Project.
Well she managed to hold her own throughout the season. No one had to teach her how to build Legos, but Julia did show her the beginnings of programming and running the EV3 robot. Rich taught all of us about bats (that was our project theme). The 3 of them worked together so well. For the first time, I really saw Hope as a part of a team, working together. It was an awesome feeling.
As we got closer to the competition, the team began working on their presentations. Each of the 3 areas of FLL must be presented to the judges n a structured format. How could they include Hope?
I e-mailed the head organizer and explained the team's dilemma. Hope is mostly non-verbal as far as spontaneous language and while she can read almost anything, she has never presented anything without adult assistance. So I asked if it was okay to have the rest of the team present for her. He responded that the entire team should share in the presentations, so that gave our team a new challenge - giving Hope the best opportunity to present. They decided to let her present the Core Values poster. It would have to be a 2 minute speech describing a poster the team made.
The team wrote her speech and they practiced how they would walk into the room and get Hope into position to present. FLL has a strict rule - NO ADULT HELP. So the kids were on their own once in the classroom. They decided to give the judges a copy of Hope's speech just in case they couldn't hear her or understand her. Julia would help Hope take a seat and then hand her the speech when it was time to begin. After, Julia would walk her over to me while Julia and Rich finished the question & answer time.
On the day of the competition, we found out we were presenting Core Vales first. I was glad that Hope would be fresh and ready. We all walked into the classroom and ... it went as best as it could. I started to cry watching Hope present and seeing the support she got from Julia and Rich.
I have to admit, I didn't think I would ever see Hope as a part of First Lego League. I loves when she proves me wrong.
Oh... and the icing on the cake? Our team won the Core Values Category!!!