Last month, the Fairmont North Tustin Campus robotics team, Hydrorobotek, consisting of 8th graders Anphu D., Kyle L., Logan P., Keyon S., and Matthew W. notched second place at the FIRST LEGO League Hydro Dynamics State Championship Tournament.
After capturing first place in the Robot Design and Programming category and second place in the Robotics Game Score category at the qualifying tournament, the team faced some unexpected challenges at the state level — there were new specifications for the build, and it was necessary for the boys to make some last-second changes to their model. Additionally, the programs on their robot had been wiped, and they had to resort to backup programming and work to reprogram features of their robot, as well.
However, these students didn’t let a handful of obstacles keep them from staying focused.
“The pressure actually helped us as a team because we didn’t have any time to mess around,” Matthew W. said. “We had to focus on the tasks at hand, or else it would end in failure, and I think we did that really well.”
Matthew also pointed out that, in maintaining that focus, the students needed to believe in one another and know that each person would get his job done exactly as he was supposed to.
“The adversity we faced at the competition put us in a very stressful environment, but what we really learned is that we had to rely on our teammates and put trust in them,” he said. “If we didn’t trust them, we’d have to do the tasks ourselves, and we didn’t have time to do that. So we all had to trust each other a lot.”
The students received a tremendous amount of encouragement from their coaches — Fairmont parents Kristin Lowery and NamPhuong Tran — who reminded the boys to have fun, to work together, and to be brave, even when it came to having to complete the task of running the mission on their own and answering questions aloud during the presentation component. Not only did they better understand what it means to work as a team, but they also obtained some valuable life lessons and skills that are applicable to high school and their future careers.
“[The entire experience] taught us all how to communicate more effectively,” Kyle L. said, “which is a very important job skill.”