I spent this Saturday at the state FLL (First Lego League) tournament (My son’s team came in 3rd!). It’s a fabulous program that presents middle school kids with a new challenge topic each year. This year was “Senior Solutions.” The kids choose an area to research and a problem to address. For instance, they might look at “arthritis” as a problem/research area and come up with a way to assist seniors with arthritis of the hand. They put together a presentation for the judges and a poster. The other half of the challenge involves robotics. Lego creates a mat with obstacles, all related to the year’s theme and the kids build and program a robot that can run the course and earn points. Teams compete at regional and state levels, sometimes having the opportunity to compete at a national competition.
Tournament days are long—7am to 6pm—but I’ve yet to see any kid drag. In fact, most look ready to party all weekend long!
Watching these talented math and science kids is one of the most heartwarming scenes I’ve experienced. Certainly their accomplishments should be lauded, but it’s the camaraderie that really gets to me. The teams are tight, but they are quick to assist another team in need (flash drives, power cords, would be likely “emergencies”) It’s a cohesive whole. Actually, much more “team” and “sporting” oriented than any actual sporting event I’ve witnessed.
These kids have found their posse and their security in the knowledge permeates everything they do.
My husband and I caught 21 Jump Street on DVD this weekend. The movie, an update on the old Depp TV show, has Jonah Hill and the lovely Channing Tatum as buddy cops returning to high school undercover. Channing Tatum character is game. High school? Piece of cake. Good looking and athletic, high school was a romp the first time around and this time he’ll be legal and minus the aggravation of attending to a transcript. He’ll thrive.
Jonah Hill on the other hand, immediately breaks into a sweat. Willingly return to the scene of massive insecurity and mortification? He’ll do it, but only because his being paid and is required as a responsible adult. He’ll try to cope.
So imagine the first day shock when they discover the new social moirés. The kids that rule the school? Eco-conscious, p.c. and uber-tolerant. These kids were eaten alive 10-15 years ago. Goths? Harajuku? Where did these kids come from? And why are the jocks on the periphery?
Is this a true reflection of modern high school? I don’t know. But I love the idea that there are more “groups” and that good looks and superior attitudes are underwhelming traits to most. I’d like to think the self-proclaimed “tech geeks” from this past weekend will be appreciated for their skill set and embraced for their passion. They deserve it.