Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Make It So

Fallen Trees
I always loved that moment in Star Trek: Next Generation when Jean Luc Picard (sexiest star ship captain ever) would say:  "make it so."  Because, inevitably, it would be so.

A while back, I penned a post, Pillbox Fill: An Idea for the 2013 FIRST Robotics Competition, that focused on creating a robotics competition that would raise intergenerational awareness.  For those of you who don't follow Robotics, the First Robotics competition is for high school aged kids.  Every year, teams from all over the world wait anxiously to learn what the next year's challenge will be.  They get their boxes filled with parts and then they build robots and then they compete in a raucous, controlled chaos fashion.

The central tenant of the post was that FIRST, which had been founded by Dean Kamen, should build a robotics competition wrapped in a social frame.  Specifically. I wanted a competition centered around older adults and activities of daily living.  Like Jean Luc Picard, I threw out an idea for a game but really left it to others to figure out how to "make it so."

Today, my brother forwarded me a notice about the First Lego League competition (FLL) and they did!   Make it so, that is.   Some housekeeping, FLL is also a FIRST program that is targeted at middle schoolers and which has a part of its mission that the challenges introduce kids to potential careers.

But back to that all important idea of making it so.  The Senior Solutions Challenge is everything that I asked for and then some.  My favorite part?  Every team has to identify a senior partner, get to know that person, learn what challenges they are facing, and then come up with a solution to that challenge.  All this on top of a robotics competition that is centered around missions focused on the themes of independence, engagement, and connection.  Themes that are incredibly important to older adults.  As delineated in the robotics game instructions:

"In the Senior Solutions robot game, you and your robot will manage a mix of challenges and activities related to being independent, engaged, or connected. None of them really has to do with being “old,” but a few of them have a harder version and an easier version. As you notice how much harder the hard versions are, and design your robot to master them, imagine what innovative technical designs and improvements you could make in real life that would make life easier for seniors – for your loved ones, and for your future self!"

Unlike Jean Luc Picard, I can not claim cause (my blog post) and effect (the Senior Solutions Challenge) -- there are a lot of smart people out there that think about robotics competitions a whole lot more than I do.  Nor do I want to.

I just think it is so cool that there is a competition that has middle school kids thinking about solutions for the challenges of aging and opening their eyes to careers focused on helping older adults.  

Kudos to @Firstlegoleague for making it so!

Coronado at Sunset

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