The Real Ones
Week #16: An Ode to Coaches and Teachers
Hello! I’m Aaron Kardell. In this Sunday newsletter, I pick one random topic weekly to go deep on and have some disparate quick hits at the end.
My son (8th grader) has participated in a FIRST Lego League competition through his school for the last two years, with his team making it to state both years. Today, we were at the RiverCentre all day for the state competition. His team was one of 66 that made it, starting from ~450 that competed in regional competitions.
There were seven award categories, and his team was a finalist in the programming and robot design categories. They also won a Judges Award!
I’m grateful my son got to participate and learn more about coding. And I’m only nominally jealous this kind of thing wasn’t available in the early 90’s when I was his age – Lego robotics have come a long way since then!
The cool thing about FIRST Lego League is that the kids give two presentations on a research project and robot design. The presentations are a very active part of the overall scoring beyond robot performance and they push the students to grow immensely.
As for the robot competition itself, each year, they have a new board with different potential missions and scoring models. It’s up to the kids to form their strategy to try and get the most points possible.
This year’s theme for all to follow around the research project was clean energy. The team did a lot of research on nuclear power and small modular reactors specifically. They sold me… I’ve now bought some shares in NuScale (SMR).
I took a more active role as an assistant coach this year. Somehow, my teenage son still wants to spend time with me, so I’m cashing in every opportunity until that changes.
My role was minor compared to that of the lead coach, Katie, who was also my son’s science teacher last year. Back-of-the-envelope math would suggest Katie has put in at least 100 additional hours this Lego League season, over and above her daytime job as a teacher.
While the team was full of good kids, several times I told Katie I wasn’t quite sure how she spent all day with middle schoolers and that she was a saint for extending her day to coach them.
I’m so grateful for teachers and coaches like Katie who invest their hearts and souls into our kids. My son’s confidence level increased significantly over these past two years based on activities like Lego League and tennis. Positive experiences like this make a lasting impact.
While I’m calling out Katie today as exemplary, my kids have been so fortunate to encounter so many good teachers and coaches along their journey. My wife, Kate, often talks about how we want our kids to be seen and known. We are lucky to have many examples who genuinely care and invest in our kids.
This Week’s Quick Hits
Usually leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, most of the talk is about the players. But this year, Andy Reid facing off against his former team was a major storyline. Congrats to Andy on tonight’s win.
Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash
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