Very well said, Stuart.
My own $.02: As others have noted, the project is a big part of the experience, both in terms of how tournaments go but – and perhaps even more importantly – as part of the whole FLL experience. I see FLL as providing everything you want your kids to have: fun, teamwork, science, engineering, obstacles to overcome, learning to do research, having to present a research project…and as such, it’s all important.
Ask them, “What’s the worst that could happen? Your project isn’t the best?” I’ve seen projects that the team thought were weak that won, and projects that teams sweated blood over that wound up middle-of-the-pack. The point is, it’s part of the learning process, and it would make me sad to see a team not even try to do the project.
Phil Smith III
Coach, The Capital Girls, Oak Hill (retired)
Team 1900 (2002)
Team 2497 (2003)
Team 2355 (2004)
Team 1945 (2005)
Another thing to keep in mind is that the research project judging is done privately with only the kids, the coach and the two judges in the room. It is about as un-intimidating and un-embarrassing as it can be made. Even if their project is incredibly bad (as my first team's was - ten 4th graders that just didn't get nanotechnology) no one else will know and the kids will have grown through the experience.
The alternative is to say it's okay to just "give up" which isn't ever a good model to teach the kids.
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