Year 5: Quest for the Lost Realm
This was a tough year for a lot of reasons, some that were out of our control and some that are welcome because it means we had SO many incredible teams with so many clever ways to solve this year’s final mission that choosing only a handful is next to impossible.
We were so impressed with the submissions this year. We saw so many thoughtful, interesting and creative ways to solve this year’s final mission. We wanted to take some time to highlight some additional teams that stood out with a couple of Honorable Mentions and even this was hard to narrow down!
Drum roll, please …
- Artistic Achievement: One and Only Ben. Talk about bringing something to life, this solo team went all out in creating life size set props that would make a professional set designer drool. Dash and Craig must have had a lot of fun in this Candyland version of the Lost Realm along with some cavities or two, we know we would!
- Inventive and Imaginative: DreamWorks and Disney have two aspiring animators coming their way. Team Claymaniacs not only composed their own background music for their presentation but delighted us all with their fun and playful extra animated pieces to support and add to their storyline. We always look forward to seeing what this team comes up given their strong inventive and imaginative side.
- On Point Producer: Team 3D. This solo team (along with Dash and Dot) presented a creative and clever presentation that walked us through all 6 missions and highlighted what worked and what didn’t – all while showing off his talented editing skills. Watch out #Zachking, this young filmmaker is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
- Mechanical Masterminds: This team, Robotic Panthers, engineered a crane attachment with legos that got the job done and could clearly become useful in other Lost Realm situations. Look out for this team next year as they are sure to come back with something even better!
- Designer Extraordinaires: The Dash Buddies know a thing or two about a strong and visual story! This team WOWed us with their production skills, their stories and their over the top set design! Get these kids an agent and tell Cartoon Network they have their next creative team!
- Collaborative Force: The Robot Tigers showed us what teamwork and collaboration really looks like. From bringing an inspirational message to their presentation, to highlighting their inner creativity, they truly got the message about what it means to create a world where all the creek kids, regardless of who they are can come together as a community and be accepted. We loved the heart, cleverness and wit of this team and look forward to seeing what they come up with next year!
- Aspiring Authors: This 9-11 all girls team, Team Creative Coders, will be writing some storybooks for Penguin Publisher soon enough. They brought their storyline to life with interviews, costumes, and creativity even when COVID kept the team apart. They found a way to showcase their imagination and their teamwork in completing their mission.
- Exceptional Engineers: Go Blaze class of 2022. Can you say Rube Goldberg style? WOW! This team gets some serious props for their skillful execution of using a floating balloon that pops and then drops a ball into the cup to disarm the booby trap. A+ for creativity.
- Outstandingly Organized: Team Robo-Ants 3000 showed off their skills in documentation, organization and extra attention to detail in their final presentation.
- Landmaker Legend: The Jahnanater sure knows how to create some fun and creative landmarks! This team of one, went all out with his designs for the Lost Realm and even added a light show! We know how hard this individual had to fight to complete his final mission and we want to recognize his perseverance, his commitment and his determination to see something all the way to the end, even when faced with some horrendous obstacles.
We can’t say it enough–we continue to be so impressed by all the incredible work that we see all our Wonder League teams doing. It makes our jobs both fun and challenging to determine each year’s winners, but here are some things we noticed among the final submissions. Please keep in mind that it isn’t just the cool attachment design that determines a winner, in fact that is just a very small part of the overall elements that are looked at for the top teams. We asked one of our long time coaches what takeaways she could share with the larger community.
A note from a veteran Wonder League coach, judge and educator
“This was year FIVE of participating as a coach in the Wonder League Robotics Competition, and my second year judging (9-11 age group). Our first year participating in the competition, my team and I had NO idea what to expect. We used painters tape on the carpet, learned to program our one and only Dash robot. I had one team of 4th graders, and we participated as an after school club, meeting for about an hour and half once a week. We were excited to place in the top 50 our first year, and that fueled a few of the same students to continue the challenge over the next four years.
As a school, we gradually added a few more after school teams each year, in varying age brackets, but due to our time constraints of being an after school team, many of our teams did not make it past the first round from year to year. Although each year the teams that did not make it to the invitational round were a little disappointed that they had run out of time, or could not get their final attachment to work, or whatever the case may be, we always made sure to celebrate their successes along the way.
As a coach, one of the most important lessons I have learned is to model growth mindset with my students. Your students will feed off your energy, so it is incredibly important to stay positive and encouraging, even when the going gets tough! Each year the students will improve, and you as a coach, will gain a better understanding of that is expected from a winning team. My first team never gave up. They pushed on year after year.
Over time I have learned that the WLRC is not just about the team that makes the best attachment, or the team that creates the most extravagant set design. It is the team that overall, shows the most creativity AND competence in the final mission. As a judge, here is what we look for in a winning team:
- Creativity – Detailed set design themed with the mission. Decor that helps set the scene and tells the story of the final mission.
- Planning and reflection – Detailed logbooks. Evidence that all members contributed to the setting of goals, planning, design and reflection process throughout the entire final mission.
- Code – Concise and elegant code. The use of variables, functions, and sensors are often seen in the code of the top 5 teams.
- Engineering – Design of a unique and ingenious attachment that is able to execute effectively.
- Attention to detail – able to creatively and innovatively problem solve, to meet all requirements and constraints as stated in the final mission.
- Final presentation – a final creative narrative. Students must articulate their understanding and showcase their journey through the design thinking process that was necessary to complete the final mission. Students should introduce themselves and explain how they contributed to the final mission. They should describe their design, coding and creative processes, showing both their successes and failures along the way. The final presentation should be an engaging multimedia presentation that tells the story of the final mission from start to finish.
A few members of my original team of 4th graders, now 8th graders, persisted for 5 years, never giving up on their goal of placing in the top 5 of the WLRC. This year they took everything they learned from the past 5 years, and their determination, creativity and innovation, led them to achieve their goal of placing in the top 5 of the Wonder League Robotics Competition.”
There have been so many amazing examples of creative problem solving with coding and robotics from all over the world this year. We are in awe of everything you’ve accomplished, you all should be proud of what you have completed! We look forward to seeing you all again next year. We will be getting some more details about Year 6 soon. In the meantime, do sign up to stay in the know.
Read more about the Top 5 and this year’s winners here.