Robotics Kickoff: Lock-In Weekend

Jan 6-Jan 7

The captain of the robotics team thought it would be fun to have a 24-hour lock-in with the robotics team after we got back from kickoff. We left for kick-off at 5:45am, got there by about 7:30, and had seen the kickoff video, gotten our parts, and were on the road again by 8. It ended up taking well over two hours to get back because of an accident and also me being ridiculous.

For the accident, as we were coming around a blind curve and traffic was slowing down, we saw a second accident that had JUST happened. The car was still in the middle of the road, and no one was stopping to help, so we called 911, stopped, and the other adult and I helped push the car up the hill out of the road while yelling at the students to stay in the dang van. Luckily (?) the two people involved knew each other, so no one was mad, just concerned about making sure everyone was safe and things got taken care of. Then we got caught in the massive traffic backlog from the other accidents, tried to find a back-roads route which turns out doesn’t exist, got caught in more traffic once we got on the highway again, and then stopped for donuts. It took me three tries to get the huge van which cannot do a U-turn into the teeny-tiny and mostly hidden parking lot of the donut place, and then I got on the highway going the wrong direction once we left. Sheesh. But! We eventually got back to campus and all was well.

The lock-in started at 10:30 with students arriving and getting settled. We went over the game and the rule book so everyone had an idea of what was required and what was allowed, and then they all spent a few hours designing and arguing and re-designing and presenting to each other and designing some more. It was really cool. I finally needed a break about 5 and went home to take a short nap, and when I got back they were still in the thick of it. G very, very kindly acted as my errand runner to fetch food for the meals as well as set up our VR system in a nearby room for the students to play with when we took breaks. We also watched “The Martian” and had hot cocoa before finally getting to sleep. Well, most of us. A few kids stayed up playing VR games, but they were still supervised, so I was cool with that.

The next morning we had another design-o-rama for an hour or so before our final activity of going around in a circle to get feedback and thoughts from everyone, which was largely positive. A lot of people apparently came in with extraordinarily low expectations and ended up having a really great time. Usually the teams are split up and only work within the same sub-team, so this was a good chance for people to do more mingling in a positive but focused environment. Practically all the designs they came up with ultimately needed to be scrapped, but since the goal was 90% team bonding and 10% learning the game, I’m going to call it a complete success. Most students were packed up and gone by about 11, and THEN the two hours of clean-up began. What had been planned as a 24-hour event ended up being a 36-hour event for me and the team leads. We were all exhausted.

It took me two days to recover which is why I’m just typing this up now. Wednesday was when I finally felt human again and was able to do functional person things again, and today I have the time this morning to write this up. Still, definitely worth it. I am hoping we get to do it again next year.

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