John, Ben and I are in Boston this weekend. Ben is involved with his school’s FIRST Robotics team (the IgKnighters) and this weekend we are attending a Regional Competition. We left work a little early yesterday and drove to Boston. We had three teenage boys in the back seat, Ben and two friends. The boys chattered throughout the entire trip. It was a fun trip but I was glad to arrive at the hotel and get out of the car. I was not as glad as the boys, though, as they unfolded their bodies from the back seat and stretched.
We are staying at the Holiday Inn in Brookline. I have to wonder if this is the Holiday Inn about which Elton John wrote:
Boston at last and the plane’s touching down
Our hostess is handing the hot towels around
From a terminal gate to a black limousine
It’s a ten minute ride to the Holiday Inn
It seems like it could be. It is kind of an old-fashioned hotel. For example, the bedspreads in our room are burnt orange. John and I are in a room and Ben is down the hall, rooming with three other boys on the Robotics team.
Our hotel is about a fifteen minute walk from the Arena. Today was a beautiful, sunny day for walking. Boston is such a nice city for walking. Today was a hard day for the team. We went to the Arena where the competition will be held. Today was practice day, so there were matches scheduled throughout the day. Our robot had some technical difficulties and the students worked on it all day. Finally, at about 4:00, the robot appeared for its first practice round. Then, the students worked on it some more until it was time for the last practice round of the day. After that round, there was more work to be done. The students and their adult mentors are very serious about making their robot the best it can possibly be. I hope that tomorrow is a good day. The actual competition will begin in the morning.
As I posted after the competition at RIT, these events put me a bit on sensory overload. The venue is loud, with music blaring. The announcers talk over the music. There are lights and movement and colors and lots of things to see. It is hard for me to make visual sense of the whole thing. Sometimes, I feel a bit overwhelmed by trying to sort out all the visual stimulation. It is very exciting, though, and I am looking forward to the next two days full of robots trying to do their best.
The nice thing about FIRST Robotics is that it is not all about winning. Of course, the students want to win, but so many points are stressed in addition to winning. My favorite is “Gracious Professionalism.” The students are encouraged to help each other, even as far as loaning parts to other teams. The students would rather battle against other robots that are the best they can be. I am glad to witness this kind of cooperation. I am glad Ben is part of it.