maandag 6 juni 2011

FIRST LEGO League Open European Championships: the view from the judging room

Greetings from all teams in the Chinese and Taiwanese tradition
Friday and Satury Delft was the host of the FLL OEC 2011. An incredible event for many reasons. I was lucky enough to participate as a judge on one of the project presentation judging teams. The view from the judging room is a special one. Teams coming in singing. Offering you their trembling and somewhat sweaty hand. Your hand being equally fuelled with tension. Because you never know what will come, only for sure that it will surprise you. The teams launch into presentation on topics you've hardly heard off or thought about. Epilepsy, stem cells, mini robots that are injected into the bloodstream to destroy blood cloths, minimally invasive methods to beat cancer....But also topics closer by to the kids: the flat feet of the Happy Feet team from India, the incredibly well thought through device of the Brasilien SESI team that allows people to exercise under medical supervision in the free exercise grounds in Brasil, the team from Peru who had developed a pregnancy monitoring device using a simple mobile phone thus enabling women high up in the Andes as well as women living in the city to get the benefits of telemedicine. I cannot even recall what we got in front of our judging tables, from China to Australia, from the USA to Singapore and everything in between. Backed up by fans, families and friends that had trailed along from all over the world. 

What makes it especially incredible is that through science and technology cultural, language and political borders are surpassed. Or better: are debunked. They simply do not count any longer. Friendships are formed across language barriers. Inventions are admired across political sensivities. It's magical. The stuff happy times and good memories are made of.

greetings from all teams!
Being a judge on such an event is really tough. Because basically you are asked to judge varieties of greatness, varieties of ingenuity, of learning experiences and varieties of great fun. Entities that do not quite fit boxes on the form: good, average, room for improvement or excellent. A number of times I felt like a proper historical artefact. For example when a 13 year old blankly tells you that the app they programmed is in the android app store but that the performance will be greatly enhanced with the new android platform that will come out this summer. Or when a database of 1500 types of food is presented to you, all indexed to enhance the life of diabetic patients. Or when three girls are measuring brain waves to explain how you can see an epileptic attack coming on. 

I had many moment where I felt utterly awed by the body of knowledge that was researched but above all by the passion by which is was researched and presented. Sometimes so strongly that I could litterally feel the air vibrating by the enthusiasm of the team. Anybody who truly believes that wisdom comes with the ages I invite to come to one of these happenings, and have yourself proven otherwise: cynicism comes with the ages. And at times pure stupidity, when you see what is produced here. The question I am left with: when does cynicism kick in? Why can't we keep the spirits of unity and brotherhood across borders up when we grow older? What precisly is so hard about trusting and appreciating the other? How is it that what sets us apart at some point in life becomes the focus of attention rather then what unites us? While we all grow tender when we see kids uniting across borders? An amazing dichotomy that has me seriously puzzled whilst looking back on a marvellous weekend.

Thanks to all the organisers, teams and volunteers involved: we had a blast! 
For live images see the MK5060 YouTube channel. And below some photo impressions.
Also see the blog of official FIRST LEGO League correspondent Khaled Marashdeh

Saudi Arabian style!
Happy feet won a prize

never too old to train your cuddly dragon
Member of the Thai team

Asklepios from Turkey

Woody collects signatures

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