Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Good: High School Competition

This past week, I was witness to two different displays of high school competition: 1) Lego Mindstorm Robotics competition; and 2) track and field state finals. Regardless of my aggravation with Kentucky public school curriculum, these two events were a tremendous display of problem-solving, creativity, hard work, and passion.

The Mindstorm Robotics competition was held in Rupp Arena and part of the Student Technology Leadership Program. The event consisted of elementary, middle, and high schoolers programming a Lego Robot to perform certain tasks. I was solicited as a judge for this competition and had a great time. The interesting part is that every robot looked and functioned differently -- a product of the creativity of the teams. Certain tasks (such as grab a small figure placed on the board or move a trophy to another area of the board) were performed differently by each of the teams. The teams all had the same robots and software, so the difference came directly from the imagination and problem-solving skills of the students.

The Class A State track competition was held at the University of Louisville. My sister has been throwing shot and discus for the past few years and qualified for both in the state this year. Going in, she was ranked 1st because of her throws in the Regional competition. She's worked very hard this year and I was anxious and proud to watch her in the state. Because of her ranking, she threw last and all of the girls had 6 total throws. Her first throw 106'9" set the mark and very few girls were even breaking 100'.

Like last year, she went into the finals with the farthest throw. Last year she got 2nd place and was beat on the very last throw of the meet. She felt the pressure going into the finals this year as well and just kept saying that she hoped the same thing didn't happen again. Sure enough, second to last throw by a girl was 106'10" -- one inch farther and enough to seal the deal. My sister had one final throw that was probably far enough but was out of bounds. She knew it when she released it and the emotions started pouring out. I'm proud of her competitive spirit and passion for working hard on something she loves. She didn't win this year, but hopefully it will provide motiviation to work even harder next year.

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