On the 10th of February of 2018, everything had to be prepared to welcome the teams and enjoy a long day surrounded by children and teenagers willing to give everything: the running order, the 8 rooms, the materials for the tests of value, the rubrics for the scientific project, the robot design and the FLL values, the projectors, the Wi-Fi passwords, the software to introduce punctuations, the sandwiches, the PIT tables, the tables of the stage, the breakfasts, the T-shirts, the credentials and a long etcetera a lot of us don’t know. The thing is that the 10th of February arrived, and everything was ready to receive the biggest FLL tournament celebrated in Spain until now.

Do you want to know more?

In 2009/2010 the Agencia Vasca de la Innovación – Innobasque organized the first edition of the FIRST LEGO league Euskadi in collaboration with Euskaltel. Then they opted for an international program based on the PBL methodology or Problem Based Learning methodology, one of the most laureated and acclaimed during these last years in education environments. Then, 18 were the teams who took part on the tournament. Almost 10 years after, on the tournament celebrated the last 10th of February at the Europa Congress Palace (Vitoria-Gasteiz), the ninth edition of the FLL Euskadi tournament took in 71 teams of children and teenagers of ages between 6 and 16. It was a challenge, apart from a gift, which exceeded successfully thanks to, among others, the 200 volunteers who, in a disinterested way, took part.

I encourage you to watch the following video to understand a bit better what I’m talking about:

And to see the pictures of the event.

Nowadays, the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is considered an international educational program that is lived by its participants as an experience of exciting and inspiring group learning. And it’s that the FLL makes use of thematic challenges to attract and involucrate schools and students in the investigation, problem solving and approaching to the science world while working through a scientific method and promoting the FLL Values, meaning:

  • The inspiration understood as the discovery, the team spirit reflected on the enthusiasm and fun the teams transmit, and the integration or adaptation to de daily life of the FLL values.
  • The teamwork that stands out by being effective and responsible (autonomous).
  • The Gracious professionalism, understood as the inclusionconsideration and appreciation of the contributions (ideas and abilities) from every member of the team, their respect and valuation, and the coopertition, the exhibition of a friendly competition and the cooperation with the rest of the members of the team and other participants of the FLL.

While the day of the tournament it was important to demonstrate that the protagonists and the pillars were the children and teenagers who took part (congratulations to everyone and to the awarded ones), today I wanted to stand out another one of the big protagonists of the tournamentthe volunteers,  the 200 people (professional engineers and researchers and high-school and university students), among which there were more than 25 teenagers under 18. It was a luxury for an event with the characteristics of the FLL.

That day you could feel the tension, the nerves and the uncertainty about matching up or not to the circumstances, but also the illusion, the willingness to have fun and learn and, of course, the pride of wearing again the T-shirt that identifies us as volunteers of a tournament that some of us keep repeating year after year.  That means something, right?

When a few weeks ago we met in one of the training sessions, I admit I felt butterflies in my stomach when Esti León, responsible of the tournament, and Itzi Uribe, responsible of the volunteering, indicated us as the “banners of the FLL values”. What a responsibility! Then you realize that being volunteer is not “only” reading a manual and being there on that day, but it means a lot more, it’s about:

  • Compromising with the FLL mission.
  • Inspiring the participants.
  • Exhibiting gracious professionalism.
  • Acting with responsibility.
  • Interacting positively.
  • Paying attention to one another (listen to them and value their opinion).
  • Respecting everyone.
  • Showing passion and enthusiasm.
  • Ensuring the participant’s security.
  • Reporting any inappropriate behavior.
  • Having fun.

And yes, we do it, each and everyone of the volunteers of the tournament, which are not a few, from our different roles:

  • Referees, controlling the robots game.
  • Judges, valuing the work of the teams and deciding the awards.
  • Floaters, accompanying the teams during the tournament to make sure they arrive on time and have fun the entire day.
  • Scientists, complimenting the job and achievements of the FLL Junior teams.
  • Timekeeper and Scorekeeper, controlling the software of the game and the time of the match.
  • Field, PIT and queue volunteers, controlling the spaces of the tournament to guarantee the teams enjoy the complete process.

I want to use this post to share with you again a reflection I did a few months back on what it means for me being a volunteer at the FLL:

“Taking part actively as a volunteer on the FLL Euskadi means a lot to me and it’s, without any doubt, one of those events of the year I look forward to. It’s a day of going up and down the stairs, running around and attending a few petitions and people so everything goes as planned. But, first and foremost, it’s a day of reunions, recognitions of the work well done, of sharing a work that took months to prepare and, above all, it’s a day of illusions and effort that, finally, are rewarded. Having been given this opportunity of being a volunteer in an event like the FLL Euskadi is, primarily, being grateful for the trust placed on me and for giving me the opportunity of being part of an event where young people and their ideas are the big protagonists of the day. But maybe, for me, the most important thing of being a volunteer at the FLL means being able to be in contact with creative, innovative, brave, positive people (children and teenagers) who make an effort every day and who have an entrepreneurial attitude, the one necessary to face the future with happiness, energy and interest in going forward while they opt for science and technology.”

Esti, Itzi, Koldo, Dani, David, EnekoS, Álvaro, Adolfo, Irantzu, Iraide, MLuz, Jessica, Carlos, Elena, Maite, Patrick, Nora, Marta, Naiara, Unai, Miren, Alba, Idoya, Montse, Blanca, Mariana, Olatz, Pedro, Leire, Genma, Héctor, Lorena, Angela, Iker, Mikel, Javi, Joseba, Zaloa and the rest of the volunteers (those of you who could and those who couldn’t make it for any reason), I hope to see you again, at the latest, next year at the FLL 2019. We’ll be celebrating 10 years!

I wish you a week full of smiles.

Translated by María Ubierna Quintanilla and supervised by Arantza Arruti.

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