Monday, December 17, 2012

Lego Stuff

Last week M had his first real Junior First Lego League showcase. The JrFLL team he was on, The Lego Bat Panthers, presented their solution for the Super Seniors challenge.

From the description of the challenge on the JrFLL page:
Can Junior FIRST® LEGO® League teams improve the quality of life for seniors by learning about the obstacles some people face as they get older? 
M's team of 6, most of them - under 6, had a tough time choosing just one quality of life aspect. Instead, they decided to create a solution for ALL the potential problems faced by seniors. As a result, they created a robot-butler (M keeps calling it "robot-bocaler").

Essentially, it's a motorized contraption that does just about anything a person might want or need to do daily. It has attachments for cooking, cleaning, vacuuming, dusting, bringing groceries from cars, digging garden beds, and blasting off door handles. Yep, that's, they all agreed, was the coolest way to solve the problem of door knobs (since, as they learned, seniors develop arthritis that makes it painful and difficult to twist door knobs). Unwittingly, they recreated the awesome SIMON, Lara Croft's robot from the Tomb Raider movie.

As part of the showcase, the team had to come up with the name, the T-shirt design, and put together a poster about their work. The name, Lego Bat Panthers, might seem strange unless you have experience negotiating a team name with a group of boys, each of whom has just the greatest idea for it. So then you take one word from each terrific idea and string it all together and voila, they miraculously agree on it.

Now, the T-shirts were largely designed by moms, but kids did vote on the color, the font and the idea of having flames. The bat panther iron-ons were added to the sleeves. And the poster... well, we took the easy way out. Each child chose photos he liked from a pile of photos taken during the JrFLL meetings. They cut them out and also colored the words in the team's name. Then they drew the pictures of other awesome robot-butlers. None of the kids wanted to deal with the messy and sticky glue, so the gluing down part was done mostly by the moms.

Then it was the showcase time. During the showcase, the kids have to be able to answer questions from the panel of judges and tell a bit about their team and their project. I wasn't there to see it, so not sure how it went. M really dislikes this part. He just wants to build, not talk about it with strangers, lol.

Back home, M  built his own, smaller and non-motorized, version of the robot-butler. So that was really cool. He also discovered the Lego YouTube channel. First, he kept watching Lego Star Wars episodes which are hilarious, I must admit. Inspired, he started building Lego scenes. The latest (I don't have a picture) is called "Imperial troopers are having lunch break while building a new base on the planet Hoth".

But then he wanted to watch all the Hero Factory episodes which are not at all funny 'cause they are basically just commercials for the Hero Factory stuff. So now he's spends all his spare time playing with his Heroes. He even built them their own Hero Factory. It has the production floor where Heroes are assembled and their quaza cores are inserted (I did help a bit with some of the machines here). There's also the control room for Zib and Quaddle. This room has lots of computers and important buttons, but also a solar panel and some garbage and recycling cans. Heroes also have a spacecraft.

But the masterpiece of the setup is the high security jail. It has 4 cells for villains and has detection and alarm lasers. It's very strong and well-guarded. Unfortunately, villains escape from it on average 10 times an hour. So the Heroes are always busy chasing them and/or improving the jail.

M doesn't know yet, but he's getting more Legos for the holidays, including lots of gears, a motor and a battery pack. Hooray!

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome that M is so much into Legos. This is how engineers are made :) I always find it interesting to observe how differently boys and girls play even though we invested so much energy into raising a gender-neutral kid.