As engineers we learn that a closed-loop system is almost always better than an open-loop system, but in practice we often fall short of getting the crucial feedback needed to correctly fine tune our final product or presentation.
Is is easy to feel that the FLL requirement to share your project with your community is a burden. Many teams fail to make it a priority and fall short of doing this in time for their qualifying tournament. Unfortunately, this is one of the non-negotiable requirements for receiving a project award, so skipping it dramatically reduces your odds of getting ranked in Project. But this is not my primary argument.
My argument for sharing with the community is that this engagement could be MORE impactful to your team members than the actual competition. This is when they get the undivided attention of professionals, they won't be hurried to fit into a 5 minute window, and they actual are held accountable to the research that they have worked hard all season to complete.
Kids tend to go through the motions of doing a project when they think it will get thrown away, but the knowledge that they have to actually explain their solution to someone who is interested in hearing it and could potentially poke holes into it can be a game changer. So don't skip this part because it's too hard. It might be the most memorable part of your season where the kids have fun sharing their work without the stress of competition day.
Below is my son's team the week before their qualifier event.
I met Coach Natraj at the Martin Qualifier when he was standing in the sidelines with his team, Python Slayers. He had a very solemn but proud look on his face. His team was not doing so well on the playing field, but he wanted them to keep up their spirits, they still had a couple more rounds to go. His team was mostly rookies with a few members who had been coached by Coach Christina Morales whom I just met last month and noticed she shared a similar dedication to the league as myself. Natraj at least felt solace that his team did really well on their Project presentation because he understood it wasn't about winning. I am always looking for a good story to promote the mission of FIRST, so I suggested that my son Binh go and do a Pit Interview with them for us to share. Here is that interview:
It's great to see a talkative group of kids that can still show respect for each other as they promote each other as well as their team. I love the spontaneous kid who started humming the Jeopardy theme song when Binh had a problem coming up with another question.
I was amazed at the questions that Binh, my 12-year-old son, choose to ask this team. These are the same questions that rookie coaches ask that go unanswered. Perhaps he has a future career in journalism (though he should possibly leave the videography to someone else). Make sure you watch the video to hear some great answers to the following questions: (or should I say great questions to the following answers?)
I was delighted to hear at the award ceremony that the Python Slayers took home the 1st place Champions Award. And I was able to capture this treasured moment of them to take home with me so that I could share with you.
FLL Coach since 2015