COPENHAGEN, Denmark – “I am amazed,” responded one of the judges at the First Lego League Children’s Climate Call after hearing a panel of Lakeland School District fifth-graders present their idea of sequestering CO2 emissions from idling school buses for beneficial use.
“Are you all going to quit school and just go on (solving problems)?” he joked, acknowledging the Lakeland Super Seven’s polished, thought-provoking presentation during the competition held May 1-3.
Sitting quietly in the corner of the room, cameras in hand, parents, grandparents and coaches relaxed into laughter mixed with tears of pride.
The day before, away from the rest of the 700 international participants stomping and clapping to the beat of the music used for the robotics races, six teams in six much quieter sections had rehearsed their presentations through the fog of jet lag, all day Saturday, May 2. They met with professors and engineers regarding their concept and how to improve the conceptual design.
From there, the students put together a media demonstration, expanded from their original winning presentation, for the Copenhagen judges and performance on May 3.
During the phase of adapting their presentation, Richard Bowman of RuMeth International Ltd. and coach of the Circuit Breakers from Moscow, Idaho, who were competing in the Climate Connection Robotics, helped The Super Seven with a PowerPoint presentation highlighting recommendations from their climate consultants. “Mr. Bowman was the missing link,” Lakeland teacher Beth Brubaker said.
The Super Seven, featured on Danish National Television Saturday night May 2, was picked by Brubaker, Lakeland District’s STRIVE teacher, for their ability to work solidly as a team from four district elementary schools. Though the Australian team won first place, Brubaker’s insight was proven by the Lego Teamwork Award for Research and Presentation chosen by the judges from among the six Climate Action teams (Idaho, Illinois, California, Mexico, Germany and Australia).
After the judges dismissed themselves to attend another presentation, the room erupted into congratulatory comments from coaches and parents.
The students exclaimed mixtures of “That was fun!” to “That was scary!”
When Cameron Marsh, 10, was complimented by Brubaker on his personal evolution in public speaking, his father, Kevin Marsh mentioned how they worked with Cameron. “We would say, ‘Call the answering machine and speak your lines into it. Then, listen to yourself and figure out what you need to do differently.’ ”
Tammy Cass mentioned that her daughter, Shelby, was influenced by an interview for a live Spokane newscast. Shelby, 10, watched herself on immediate playback. Shelby realized she was talking too fast. It seemed these students had been making public speeches for years by their excellent enunciation and delivery.
When asked how they felt the presentation went, Cameron Marsh said, “Awesome. I want to come back next year.”
“The stress was no big deal,” said Ross Jenkins, 12, confidently, “The more people there are, the easier it is.”
But Hayden Zeimantz, 11, mentioned, “My legs were hurting, I was so stressed.”
Tyler Siegford, 11, agreed with Hayden, “Stressed, yes, a little. It was scary and super fun. I never believed we would get this far. Denmark is a lot better than I imagined it.”
Parents and grandparents enjoyed touring Denmark as well. Corrie Siegford, Tyler’s mother, said, “We’ve had a great time touring. Denmark is beautiful. It has been an awesome opportunity.”
She mentioned being surprised and grateful for the generosity of those who helped fund the trip for the team and family members, especially with the U.S. economy as it is.
“I’ve never been so amazed and proud of a group of students in my career,” said Brubaker to the Super Seven.
Exclaimed coach Lisa Daniels, walking away from the presentation room with her head held high, “After that, these kids can do anything.”
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