In this blog, we are joining one of the most popular clubs at BWYA, the Lego Robotics Club, to find out what they’ve been up to.
We first joined the Lego Robotics club in January of this year. At that time, BWYA had four teams participating in the ACAMIS Northern Region Qualifiers.
The competition was incredibly tight, particularly for the ‘Robot Game’ session – every team has to finish as many tasks as possible, in a very short space of time. However, after many hours of training, the students were calm and collected; from unloading parts to swapping robots, everything was smooth and fast.
“There were many unexpected points in the actual game. For example, the gap between the arena map, and the arena walls was much larger than expected, so we had to give up some tasks. Although thinking back now, giving up was the right choice, since it gave us more time to finish others”, Grade 8 student Rain Lin shared with us after the game. During the course of the interview, we also learned that behind the students’ performance, were hours of practice and countless exercises. At one point in the interview, Rain told us he was coming to school every weekend to prepare. When pressed for confirmation, he smiled and replied, “Yes, almost every weekend, of course with the teacher!”
Talking about preparation, Adam Xu from the ninth grade also shared, “We started preparing more than three months ago, and even had our own practice competitions. We originally had four teams at the secondary school, but after competing together, decided only to send the three best to represent our school.” [Note: the fourth team in the competition came from the primary school]
Hard work pays off though, and the final results from the qualifiers were a real encouragement – achieving top results across the board. ‘Robot Design and Programming’ – first place; ‘Robot Game’ – second place; ‘Core Values – second place; ‘Research Project’ – third place; and in the overall championship placing second and fourth, with two teams successfully selected to advance to the national championship.
Robotics: Not just for boys
Asked about the club’s usual activities, Grade 9 student Kelly Yang told us, “In fact, most of our activities are centered around the competition. Mr. Danny Yu shares a lot of learning resources with us, such as the EV3 guide [a Lego Robotics Guide], and helps us learn how to use them well. Although he doesn’t always show us exactly what to do, we also have a lot of space and freedom to figure out things on our own. Obviously, during the actual competitions, the coaches aren’t allowed to help.” During the competition, Kelly presented the team’s research project, speaking fluently and clearly on the topic.
Also from the ninth grade, student Nicole Xu was responsible for the in-depth study and preparation of the research project. “For this competition, our topic was ‘How to Solve the Problem of Astronauts’ Loss of Bone in Space.’ We did a lot of research and study.”
Not fighting alone
At the competitions, teamwork is key. As Kelly shared with us, “We all have our own responsibilities and tasks, and by separating the work well, we ensure the team gets the best result.”
Student Adam Xu was captain of the Flat Earth Society team. They had many challenges to overcome. “To begin with, everyone was incredibly busy. As well as the Lego competition, we were also all involved in many different activities. It definitely wasn’t how I’d imagined it. However, after some reflection, I realized I wasn’t being very tolerant, and needed to think about others’ responsibilities more and make sure I was working honestly, and hard, for the areas I was responsible for. The competition result wasn’t everything. So slowly, I learned how to work well with others who have different responsibilities, and make sure I had carried out the tasks I was responsible for to the best of my ability.”
At the eventual national championship though, Adam’s team fought very well, with their teamwork and cooperation earning them third places in both robot design and programming, from amongst 28 teams from all of China.
So what lies next?
Tenth grade Franklin Xiong also used to be a club member. Even though he has left the club now, he is still very happy to share with us stories from his time with Lego Robotics. Franklin’s most memorable moment comes from the Shanghai American School FLL English Tournament, held in Shanghai last January. Although it was BWYA’s first competition, the students managed to win the ‘Rookie Star’ award, as the best new team.
“When we received the trophy, it felt like all the hard work we’d put in was worthwhile”, he shared with us full of pride and joy in the club’s previous achievement.
Since starting in 2013, the club has now had six spring and autumn seasons. With new members joining as the older ones leave though, the experience and learning are unbroken, going from strength to strength.
When Rain first joined the club, he wasn’t very confident, but in his own words told us he, “loves drilling bull horns [a Chinese chengyu about studying difficult problems]”. Busy with robotics jobs, when one method doesn’t work, another will be found, even if it takes a few days.
However, other members of the club have different approaches to problem-solving. Talking about another old member of the club, Kevin Zhang, Rain tells us, “Kevin would adjust and modify his projects and thinking immediately if he found a problem, and I am starting to realize that my own approach has some problems. When I have difficulties, I might spend two or three hours focusing on that specific problem, and miss a simpler, more general solution, or even give up, do some other tasks, and then spend even more time on this little obstacle. Even though he has left the club now, the impact he left on me is very deep.”
The learning and growth aren’t merely limited to the teachers and students individually though but also affects student to student interactions. As German philosopher Karl Jaspers said, “Education is a tree shaking another tree, a cloud driving another cloud, a soul awakening another soul.” So as the students continue their educational journey, it is possible for them to become that tree, or cloud, or soul. In fact, these learning experiences and opportunities are everywhere.
Along with Christina Ge and Rain Lin, are many students, excited about what tomorrow has in store, and hoping to apply to artificial intelligence related majors in the future. Wilson Lin, a ninth-grade student interested in artificial intelligence and psychology told us, “If I had sufficient resources and it was technologically achievable, I would most like to design a completely just robot, similar to a courtroom judge, but unlike humans, one that would be completely fair, without any prejudices or bias.”
The future is full of possibilities
So how do we raise a new generation of young people that are even better prepared to meet and create the future that will ultimately belong to them? The answer is in our hands. Cherishing every opportunity to understand and learn from one another, since these opportunities are the starting point for development.
This post is provided by BWYA
Photos courtesy of BWYA