January 31, 2016 by Dr. Robbie Barber
This year I thought we would do something different.
Technology Competition is an opportunity for students to work on a project in an area of technology like audio production or graphic design. No more than two students together and its also separated by grade. On the actual Technology Competition day, students must show up 30 min. before their appointed time. They present their project for 15 min. and go home. Most students come and leave with their parents. My students live 35 miles away, the parents cannot come and we use a school bus to travel back and forth. We must be there before the first student competes and we stay until the last one is done. Last year, I took my students and we stayed in a provided room at the competition for about 5 hrs.
This year, the organizers gave us a room again but this time we brought the entertainment. We had two regular Spheros and one BB-8 (it’s so cool!). We brought decorated trash and taped it to the floor to create a Sphero obstacle course. We had a bubble sea to cross (bubble wrap), a flower maze (styrofoam squares), and the Tunnel of Doom (box with a hole in the front and no back). I even thought we might time people going through the obstacle course. We put up posters and invited anyone to join us. There was no cost. Our students were responsible for designing, setting up and helping the visitors. And cleanup required boxing the Spheros and throwing away all of course and tape. Simple.
- I can start with a good idea, but others can make it better, if you LET them. My co-teacher wanted to tripled the size of the obstacle course and it turned out to be great to have the extra space. His changes made the whole thing work.
- 12 yrs old have a short attention span. By the end of the fourth hour, my students were playing on their phones (or my laptop) and ignoring the visitors unless I called to them. No harm in taking breaks and some good comes of it.
- People like to be invited. People will not come to you – go to them. We had signs at the registration desk but we were located two hallways away. At first, no one showed up, so we went out and invited them in. People like to be invited.
- Parents were excited to play with it too. Let them. This wasn’t a competition, it was just fun introducing others to a small robot ball.
- On the bus, one student asked if we were still in Atlanta. He’d never been this far from home. Never underestimate how much a trip will make a difference for a child.
- Look for something different. It’s out there and it really makes a difference in the type of experience you can have. It’s not the responsibility of the organizers to entertain us. But we can have a solution that helps everyone. And that’s worth a lot.