Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.
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team—the committee spent a week in the cafeteria collecting, separat- ing and weighing each of seven categories of waste. A full-scale recy- cling program was added to the food donation table. As a result, Bates now diverts about 40 percent of its cafeteria waste from landfill. The Robots Raiders have learned a lot, and have given back to their community, since they started working as a team. The girls have not only learned about robotics, problem solving, and teamwork, but have had a lot of fun along the way. Team member Sadie Solomon has loved the experience. "You feel like you don't want to stop working toward your goal. In the end, you get to see what you built. You have a sense of accomplishment that you don't get from other things." Adding LEGO League to the schedule of already busy middle schoolers is no small commitment. From September to December, the girls—and parents—spend hours every weekend on programming and research—in addition to sports, music, homework, and other obligations. Is it worth it? The parents of the Robots Raiders say it is. "Lego League provides the girls with all the benefits of any team- based activity—camaraderie, teamwork, unselfishness, and the like," Peter Solomon, father of Sadie, says. "But the intellectual benefits are perhaps more significant—how to problem solve, how to iterate, how to persist and make incremental changes, how to present information visually and orally, how to think logically. These are skill sets that get addressed at school, but not in such a cohesive and robust way, and certainly not with the same sense of ownership and self-directedness. I also think the girls realize that their gender has absolutely no bearing on their ability to enjoy and excel at STEM content." And while one might think that the girls all had an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects before FLL, talking with the team members makes it clear that this isn't the case. "Personally I don't like science class in school," team member Lucy Snow says. "But this is more like engineering and programming. In LEGO League, we can brainstorm ideas and aren't just sitting at a desk. Even if you don't think you like programming, I'd tell people to give it a try because it can be a really fun experience." And as Isabella Pavano notes, there's always the future to consider. "What we've learned we could apply in getting a job." When you think about it that way, a few hours every weekend sounds like a pretty good investment. 176 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 7 education "a really fun experience" The girls dressed up to present their research project idea for the judges. In 2016, the team won the award for best project presentation in the regional tournament C O U R T E S Y O F R O B E R T P L E N G E