Saturday, November 8, 2008

About Research

We have two FLL seasons under our belt, and better yet, two first place trophies, both in Research. The research project is often overlooked, and the Unofficial Guide to First LEGO League said that it was "easy" and a "science project". To whoever is reading this post, the writer(s) of this book must not have seen and/or made a research project in the last 4 years. The team went to the 2007 world championship in Atlanta, Georgia, and was blown away by the size and quality of the competing teams research presentations. This year we are literally blowing our minds trying to compile pages and pages of research on an extremely tight schedule. This is neither easy nor insignificant.

Much of the thanks for our research success should go to our research coach, who has a flair for organization and heavy duty research, and I am NOT kidding! She has kept us in line and put up with us for almost 3 years, and we haven't done bad. Her oversight has really made our projects what they have been. From what I have learned in these 3 years, here are 3 keys which I feel are important to having a competitive project.

The first key to success is that the judges like to see that a team compiled a lot of research. Last year when we won first place in research, we gave them about a 100 page book with a complete bibliography, a DVD from some of our field trips, and a summary of all the research we did.

The second key to success is to have a creative presentation. The judges that are watching you have dozens of teams ahead of them, and they won't give you high points unless they stay with you. Teams must have a creative presentation to keep them focused and listening to your research. Having lots of good research is nothing if the judges shut down their brains and don't hear a thing you say.

The final key to success is taking what you have learned, and affecting the community with it. Teams have gone to worlds because of the way they have impacted the community with their presentation, and the judges where really impressed. Part of the challenge this year is sharing the things we have learned! Last year we had to take what we learned from our energy audit that we made, and make recommendations to the building we audited.

Again, completing all this is NOT easy. The project this year is the toughest we have ever done. But it is important in order to win, to score high on the presentation. Got research?

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