I ran judging at the Ashburn regional FLL tournament yesterday, as I've done for the last several years. A good time, as always.
But we missed Kt and her friends. She'd been judging herself for the last few years since she "aged out" of competition, and always drafted a motley collection of somewhat-willing teenagers to help out, and they always had a great time.
One of the advantages of running judging is that I don't have to judge, but can sit in on judging. And I happened to catch a judging session with what was ultimately the championship team in Division 1 (under 12), Team Dynamite.
An apt name: eight fourth and fifth graders, mostly girls. A whirlwind of bright, articulate kids, who attacked the Core Values problem they were given five minutes to solve with an energy and interest that reminded me of Katie at that age.
I'm glad I was there; I wasn't sure whether it would be too evocative and depressing, but it wasn't. But it would have been better if only...
For anyone who doesn't know what FLL is, check out FIRST LEGO League. And if you have kids 8-12, see if there's FLL in your area. It's a great program. I like to say it teaches everything you want your kids to learn: teamwork, science, engineering, adaptability, presentation skills...I could go on. And unlike any other competition kids at that age are likely to participate in, it stresses values like Gracious Professionalism. As a result, kids don't wind up in tears over "losing": in a decade of FLL, I've never seen a single such incident.