Hi Aaron, Thanks for stopping by. You raise a really good question in wondering about the rest of the students – it is something real that I grapple with. Anyone can join in but not every one can is the semi-contradictory predicament. I can take heart in the fact that we are probably going to field 3 teams this year which will cover the majority of kids who want to participate. From this term onwards, we are going to put some class time towards it as well as the break times. FLL is the next step on from what is being offered as part of our STEM learning programs and is an opt-in program in the same way that school sports teams are. There are limits to how many people can be on a team and a good team has a balance of different skillsets and temperaments. Not everyone wants to play sport and not everyone wants to be part of FLL – as a member of leadership with a STEM focus, I have the chance to lead this out to provide the opportunity for these STEM curious students. So I do.

All of our students have the chance to use our Mindstorms robotics kits. Some find it frustrating and breathe a sigh of relief when the lesson is done – some find building a real challenge while others can’t wait to get to the programming. What FLL does is offer those engaged kids a pathway to utilise and extend those skills in a program where they can measure their progress against and learn from others. It is probably an “inspiration” type program as well because it is broader than just programming robots and includes a lot of teamwork and research skills. Because it is international and learning from others is a key component of the program, improvement can be “hothoused” through the resources and ideas provided by others.

I suppose I rationalise your question about who it impacts in the following way. If we don’t participate, then no one gets impacted at all or the impact is limited to the lessons I provide and the students learning by experience and from each other. If I run 3 teams that is about 30 students out of the just 100 we have in our Year 5-7 cohort who get to be involved. There is still the spinoff of the students who see it happening one year and then decide to get involved in the next – and the impact of the kids being involved back in our school in terms of running lunchtime groups, serving as mentors, running student led workshops and so on. I’ll be honest – it is also good PR for the school and opens up different opportunities. And it makes me keep looking for other STEM related opportunities for our students – I organised for 15 interested girls to attend a Robogals workshop during the holidays and we have signed up for a StemNation Challenge that involves building a wetlands vehicle – this will attract and cater for a different type of student.

Thanks for making me think – I have been wrapped up in this experience so stepping back and asking a few probing questions is a good thing.