We aren’t likely to forget our first competition…

28 Apr

I can not tell you how exciting it was to watch as they navigated the SeaPerch successfully through the obstacle course!

To be honest, I couldn’t believe my eyes. We had never even come close to maneuvering our ROV with this type of control. I was over the moon with happiness. They wove in and out and up and down. The tether got caught a few times, but they managed and persisted. Proud parents shouted and clapped from the side. I was jumping up and down shouting and cheering. I just couldn’t believe how well they were doing, especially after the morning we had had.

Team 2 was up. Their job would  be difficult. They had to complete the official mission: Stop the flow. Cap the well. Skim the oil.  So far, very few teams had much luck. Which is why… when our sixth grade student completed this first step within the first few minutes, I exploded. “Go!” I shouted, “Go!” I could hear the rest of our team in the bleachers screaming. We looked up on the big screen and there was “Steve” in all his glory. What a rush.

For twenty minutes straight the kids did their best to complete the challenge. It was intense. They were focused and communicating with one another and persisting. While trying to complete step 2, the cap floated loose and started the “flow” again, essentially undoing step 1. Tears welled in the side of our driver’s eyes. “I can’t do it.” he said, while never taking his eyes off what he was doing. “You can too!” I shouted. “You’re doing exactly what we need you to do!” 

When the judges called time,  I said, “Just for fun, on your way back to the pool edge see if our new skimmer design works and try to scoop up a few balls.” Guess what… it gobbled them right up. I couldn’t be prouder, which is why it near broke my heart when, as they pulled the ROV out of the pool, their faces sank into a defeated sullen pout and they said, “We failed. We couldn’t do it.” 

I almost laughed. Failed? Really?

I told them how proud we all were of them for trying so hard, for working like a team, and for handling the intensity of 20 minutes of non-stop focus next to lane after lane of high school students with two judges looking over their shoulders. I gave them both huge hugs and the two judges behind them told them they had done a great job. Their frowns were soon replaced with wide grins and when they rejoined their teammates in the bleachers, they were met with high-fives and “Good job!”.

Now that the pool event was over, we waited patiently for our presentation group to return. Two of the kids came running up looking disappointed and shouting, “Ms. G! Ms. G! It was horrible. We forgot everything. We got up there and froze. It was a complete disaster.”

I did my best to console them and said, “Well, we knew coming into this event that we weren’t well prepared for our presentation. You did your best to practice today. Next year we’ll do better.” 

“PSYCH! Ms. Greer we’re just kidding! We rocked it. It was really good. We knew the answers to all their questions!  We got you good didn’t we?”

I sighed a breath of relief. The rest of the group followed shortly (along with one very drenched-to-the-core chaperon.) If the kids really did well, there was only one explanation… Jen had gotten them organized and prepared. (I know I hadn’t. I had simply run out of time. We were prepared to take that loss.)

Exhausted and happy we packed up our belongings. We were not able to stay for closing ceremonies due to a miscommunication about the event end time. Honestly though, I don’t know if the kids had another hour in them. They were beat.

Oh yeah… one last little detail about the day:

After the parents had come and all the kids were gone, I drove back to the pool to see if I could find a few items we had left behind. I ran into one of the judges who had helped us. “Hey” he said. “Where were you during closing ceremonies?” I explained. “That’s ashame” he said, “I think your kids won something. There might be an award waiting for them.”

Just this morning, I received this e-mail message:

Hello,

I represent the Atlantic Rangers Scuba club, we were the divers in the pool during the recent SEAPerch. Each year our club gives an award to the team we feel shows determination to compete despite disadvantages or obstacles. This year we gave our Against All Odds award to your middle school. You also won SEAPearch’s team spirit award. Your team had left the building. I have these awards in my possession and will bring them to you upon contact with your school.

Yep. I know. Pretty cool. 🙂

(We had our team party last night and the Atlantic Rangers Scuba representative came and awarded the students the “Against All Odds” certificate and gift. He also pulled out a big trophy. It turns out we didn’t even place in the Spirit category, but we did take third in pool!  After that crazy day, what an accomplishment for the kids.) 5/4/2011

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2 Responses to “We aren’t likely to forget our first competition…”

  1. Daniele Tedesco May 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Stephanie,

    You did a great job on this competition and I was very happy to help. I learned as much as I taugh during this experience. It was a ton of fun. Keep spreading the word about engineering. Engineers have the most exciting and most important jobs (second to teachers). We keep the world turning.

    I look forward to helping out again.

    • missgreer May 6, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

      Thanks Dan! I’ll keep spreading the word about engineering and you keep spreading the word about teachers. Volunteers like you help to empower and inspire teachers like me. 😉

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