Hello World! Chloe here, with my teammate Ananya. This weeks blog will explore a topic that defines the essence of every FIRST LEGO League team - Core Values.
At the Heart of It All
At the heart of FLL are eight guiding Core Values:
We are a team.
We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
We know our coaches and mentors don't have all the answers; we learn together.
We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
What we discover is more important than what we win.
We share our experiences with others.
We display Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition in everything we do.
We have FUN!
Work It Out!- Teamwork Exercises
Each week, we engage in teamwork exercises to keep our team working as a unit, and as a way to remind us that each team member brings different experiences and approaches to problem solving. Working in this way teaches us to value one anothers perspectives. We consider this aspect of Core Values, to be the grease for our gears.
While each weekly exercise is based on a specific problem, like building a bridge in five minutes with nothing but toothpicks, the real goal of the exercise is to learn more about how we work together and communicate as a team. For us, its the process of communication and discovery that matters, and not how well our toothpick bridge holds up.
In addition to teamwork exercises, Team Geared UP! also finds it helpful to extend the Core Values in creative ways. At the beginning of every FLL season, we elect team mediators who are skilled communicators and serve to help the team respect one another, compromise, and to ensure that each team members perspective is heard and valued.
Adults dont know everything
And neither do we! Thats why its important to learn together. Coaches and mentors are helpful guides, but the kids on the team do the work. This means that the solution is developed by YOU! As you build your robot, and develop your innovative solution to the research project, you should share your ideas with your coaches and mentors. Carefully consider any critiques or suggestions they offer. Coaches and team members learn from each other in a reciprocal relationship of knowledge sharing.
The Sunny Soul of FLL Core Values- Dr. Woodie Flowers
Pictured here is Dr. Woodie C. Flowers, Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, and a Distinguished Advisor to FIRST. You can find Dr. Flowers at tournaments; greeting teams with a warm smile, decked out in his signature, signature shirt. Yes, you heard that right- he wears a shirt that fans get to sign - how cool is that?
Dr. Flowers is recognized in the FIRST Community as a leader of Core Values who coined the phrase Gracious Professionalism. Gracious Professionalism represents a blend of knowledge, competition and empathy. No one is a loser in FIRST programs - everyone participating gains valuable experience while having a good time.
To our team, Gracious Professionalism means always acting with integrity and celebrating the value of others. To display Gracious Professionalism, you compete fiercely but treat your competitors and teammates with respect. Dr. Flowers said it best, Gracious Professionals are simply good, smart people doing good, smart things.
Coopertition, another element of the FIRST ethos, is a portmanteau word formed by a combination of cooperation and competition. Coopertition represents learning from, and collaborating with, your teammates and other teams. When you display Coopertition you are simultaneously competing, and helping others.
Lend a Helping Hand
Hand in hand with honoring the spirit of friendly competition is the knowledge that what you discover is more important than what you win. You wont go home with a trophy every time you compete, but you will have won lasting knowledge and experience. So, put that knowledge to good use and share your experiences with others! Our team shares our FLL experience with others when we mentor rookie FLL teams, host free robotics workshops, and conduct STEM outreach in our greater community.
We feel we do our best work while helping others and most FLL teams share this ideal. You dont have to look very far to find Core Values in action throughout the FLL community. Just attend a tournament or a STEM outreach event and youll see these important life skills on display! This past year, for example, the generous and enthusiastic spirit of Team #12045, Glenkirk Elementary FLL Team especially impressed our team. Even while competing at the same tournament, they were cheering for us! Now thats Coopertition at its finest!
The last of the Core Values is one of our favorites, and one that our team strongly embodies - We have FUN! Team Geared UP! believes that there is opportunity for fun in everything you do. If your team can have fun, even while working hard, you are ready for FLL success.
Life Lessons Learned
Although demonstrating these Core Values will help you succeed in FLL, FLL is not all about winning. The best aspects of the program are when you have the opportunity to share your knowledge with others, connect with other teams, learn about STEM, and have fun.
Years from now, the FLL Core Values will continue to guide us, inspire us to be better people, and remind us (even when were old!), that having FUN while being kind and caring provides a foundation for a wonderful, productive life of discovery!
When you check out our video this week, ask yourself, What are the ways in which I embody Core Values?