Welcome to guest bloggers Arvind and Sanjay Seshan! Arvind and Sanjay are members of Not the Droids You Are Looking For (www.droidsrobotics.org), a FIRST Lego League (www.firstlegoleague.org) team based in Pittsburgh, PA. They have had a very successful four seasons, winning a Champions trophy and Robot Performance trophy every year of competing in Western PA. In 2014, they also competed at FLL International Open in Canada where they won First Place Innovative Solution. This year, they will be competing next at FLL Razorback Invitational in Arkansas – another international tournament. They love to represent their city, state and country at these events. Most of all, they love promoting STEM activities for kids in their hometown and beyond. The boys are also the authors of the EV3Lessons website where teams, classrooms and home labs can find fantastic resources to build and program your Mindstorm EV3 robots.
We started participating in robotics tournaments when we were 7 and 9 years old. Now, we are 10 and 12 and nowhere near stopping. Why? The answer is simple – there is something new to learn every year by participating in First Lego League (FLL). In addition, we have been able to share the knowledge we have gained with thousands of kids around the world.
We read somewhere that “robotics is like a bank. You get out what you put in.” While we spend a lot of time on robotics (anywhere from 5-15 hours a week), robotics has taught us so many computer science and engineering skills. We learned how to program in NXT-G, EV3, RobotC, Python, HTML. etc. and kept track of all our ideas in an engineering notebook. But we have learned so much more: how to communicate our ideas in 5 minutes, how to interview experts, how to respond to interview questions, how to make presentation materials, and how to be creative. Most of all, it has given us confidence. Often times, we are teaching kids older than us, and even adults!
Since we love robotics and First Lego League so much, we spend a significant amount of time sharing what we know and teaching others. Even when we are not competing (the “off season”), we find that robotics keeps us busy. Our team is usually doing a demo to spread STEM in Pittsburgh at the Carnegie Science Center, at High School robotics tournaments or at libraries. It has become the part of FLL that we enjoy the most. We teach programming, run joint-team meetings for teams in Pittsburgh, and mentor local teams as well as those outside our state.
As part of First Lego League this year, we started creating and sharing programming lessons. These can be found at www.ev3lessons.com. It has over 4400 users from seventy-five plus countries. We even partnered with other teams to get the lessons translated into other languages. Our favorite part of this project has been working with and talking to teams around the world. We plan to create a non-profit company and grow EV3 Lessons even more.
We encourage everyone to try out robotics and First Lego League. You’ll be surprised what you can learn and do while having a lot of fun! If you want to learn more, you can visit our website or even visit one of our upcoming hands-on demos:
March 4: Carnegie Science Center
(9:00 am-2:00 pm)
March 19: Wilkinsburg Children’s Library
(4:00 pm-5:30 pm).