Some of the core values cultivated in First Laser Robotics are gracious professionalism and cooperation. Students are encouraged to be gracious and professional to everyone they meet at all times. They are also taught to compete while cooperating well with opponents. If a competing team needs help, you help them.
Camdenton team members are taking that a step further by mentoring other local teams and introducing them to First Laser League.
A group of four students from Oak Ridge met with fifth and sixth grade students at Eldon Upper elementary school to and shared what First Robotics is all about.
"We just talked about mainly what Robotics is, how to start, what the core values are and stuff like that," Camdenton sixth grader Eli Mangone said. "It's fun to help other teams because you know you did a good job. You helped other teams do their part and that makes you feel better than just winning sometimes because sometimes if you just win, you feel good but if you help someone and they win, you feel a lot better."
Eldon is preparing its students to participate in First Robotics next year.
"What we are doing this year is the 4-H junk drawer robots. It is really neat because it is getting them thinking outside the box and starting to do some problem solving which is going to lead really well into the First Laser League next year. Our plan is to go on and do some competition in the subsequent years," teacher Jerry Barsby said.
First Robotics is a way to give students a hands on mathematical and scientific experience that will help students inside the classroom and out, something that Barsby felt like was needed in Eldon.
"I love science and math and I think that is definitely a spot that is kind of weak with our students, so being able to give them an engaging way to do so, I think it will give them an opportunity to succeed in those areas," Barsby said.
What many may not realize is that First Robotics is about much more than a robot.
"I learned that you should be nice to other people, use gracious professionalism and it's not always about winning," Camdenton sixth grader Vincent Khor said. "You learn from your mistakes sometimes. You learn a lot and you get a lot of experience."
Like Khor, sixth grade student, Rachel Harris finds it important to learn from mistakes.
"Just try try again if you don't succeed at first, but just learn from your mistakes that time," Harris said.
Every student agreed that First Robotics has its challenges but is always enjoyable.
Page 2 of 2 - "It's not easy but it's fun," fifth grade student Mercedez Hanlon said.
Barsby was impressed with all the talk of the core values and is looking forward to implementing them into the Eldon team.
"I learned about focusing on the core values and learning how to work together as a team," Barsby said. "I think the core values are going to be really important to teach the groups as we move forward and just getting the groups excited about doing it. As of right now, they really didn't know what it was."
All four Camdenton students were happy to lend a hand by mentoring Eldon.
"It gives you experience. It helps you practice different things like gracious professionalism and helping make a team makes you feel very happy and good," Hanlon said.
"It helps you have more experience so if they ask you a question, you may not know it so you may have to learn right along with them," Harris added.
Harris also encouraged students to stick with robotics and find a place on the team that fits your personality and skills.
"Stick with it. If you don't particularly like it, try something different within robotics and it will be a lot of fun," she said.
Eldon was very grateful for Camdenton's willingness to share their knowledge of First Robotics.
"It's wonderful because I don't know where to start with it and so having someone who knows what they are doing is great and to establish that communication between the two school districts is wonderful. They will hopefully be a big help in the future, too," Barsby said.
Camdenton teams have also mentored other schools including School of the Osage, Owensville, Sedalia, Benjamin Banneker Charter School, Kansas City, Jefferson City, Springfield Green County 4H, West Plains, Joplin High School, Waynesville and McDonald County.