Sunday, September 23, 2012

Week 38 or Another Lego Box

The kids started back at school a few weeks ago. Lego League starts up again this week. For the past two years, I've coached a series of Junior FIRST Lego League teams at the school. This year my older one has aged out of the Junior League and is moving up to the competitive stage. We lost our competitive Destination Imagination teams due to kids graduating and a coach's kids moving out of the school. (Boo on many different levels, but she's still a dear friend, and none of the boo's are directed at her.) So the competitive pressure is on our shoulders. And my daughter only wants to do it so she can go to a championship far away. Our school may be small and poor, but somehow we manage to send a team to the DI national championships on a regular basis. In the 4 years we've been there, three years have seen a team go to Nationals. If only for the financial health of the donor community, I hope we don't go farther than local competition.

So this year I will be coaching two teams, with my kids, instead of four teams, only one of which has my kids on it. A couple of months ago I made a Lego box that we use at home. It seems to be holding up pretty well. When I made that one, I cut out material for a second one. I made the center panel out of clear plastic with Kevlar threads. At some point I forgot which pieces went to what and used one of the plain bits for some other project. How odd that the material was perfectly rectangular and 21" wide! Just what I needed at the time! So one side is cut from stiffer sail fabric, the other from softer sail fabric. I'm sure the kids will be so distraught by the discrepancy that they refuse to play.

Knowing all the pains I took to add the velcro and the handles last time, I sewed them to the components before assembling the box. Way easier. With the extremely stiff center panel, I would have been cursing like a sailor sewing them on this time. Never mind that I then sewed one of the handles into another seam. It came out easily enough with no visible damage.

I had just enough of the Kevlar material to make the lid, so I did. All in one day. OK, maybe two or three days. I had just enough plastic sign material to stiffen two sides, so I did. I may have to wait until after the elections to grab another sign and stiffen the other panels. Then again, if everything works well without it, I may not bother. Right now, it's holding together well enough, but it's definitely not as structured, stackable or tidy as the other box. I also like the idea of having a semi-clear box. Unless I can find two clear plastic panels, I would lose that feature.

Oh, crap. I just checked out the Lego League registration information, and it looks like I'll be asking the PTO for a lot more money than I had intended. Oh well, we're saving a lot by not having the DI teams. And the city wants to encourage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, and has a pot of money for that.

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