Monday, January 30, 2012

Amazing Weekend

This weekend I was once again judging the FIRST Lego League competition. This time it was for the big bucks. The top two teams move on to an invitational tournament, one in Florida, and the other at Lego Land California. How cool is that?! We gave out over 30 awards to 74+ different teams. An exceptional job was done by all.

Here is a video from Donut Guy Productions that sums up the twelve hour day (award ceremony wasn't included because they wanted the kids to be able to see themselves in the video during the ceremony).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Terry cloth robe

Nothing like a cozy terry-cloth robe after a warm bath...

I can almost be a human standing like this!

Don't bother me, I'm lounging.

Monday, January 23, 2012

FIRST Lego League

This past Saturday I was a judge for the FIRST Lego League qualifier tournament. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The Lego League, or FLL, is for children ages 9-14. Each year, FLL creates a "mission" for teams to compete in. Teams have 3 months to build and program a Lego robot based on the Lego Mindstorm kit(s). Teams register to compete in a local county qualifier tournament. At the qualifiers, the top performing teams are invited to state championships and then possibly the world championships.

This year's mission was based on food safety--how to get food from the farm to the table with minimal contamination. But it doesn't stop with just building a robot, the FLL also has a Project component in which students are given a scenario and are to research the given problem and invent a solution and present it to a team of judges. This year, students were asked to pick a food and a contamination problem found with that food and invent a way to minimize contamination.

I had the privilege of judging The Project component and learned far too much about food contamination and spoilage. Did you know that washing strawberries is especially important as they can have E.Coli, Salmonella, and Hepatitis A on them? And strawberries are listed as the 3rd favorite fruit in the United States? I sure didn't.

I have to say, these kids are incredible. Programing and designing a robot in three months is hard enough, but these kids also have to complete the project as well. Some teams had 20+ kids, but others only had three students. Can you imagine having only three students for all those tasks and challenges?

FIRST has a whole slew of games and missions for children of all ages. My favorite still has to be the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)--120lb. robots battling it out on a field for the highest score. But, they could also be my favorite since my brother did the Robotics Competition for his four years of high school. This year's game is called Rebound Rumble and is basically robot basketball with a twist. And they only have 6 weeks to design and build a robot.

For those who want to see some videos of this year's mission and competition:

Lego League Tournament in Utah:

Robotics Competition Game for 2012:

Brother's Regional Competition in 2010 (Team 2377... extra points for hanging your robot):

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tasteful Tuesday: Chocolate Peanut Pie

Every summer my family takes a vacation to the Outer Banks. We've been going there for over 20 years and each time, we make sure to stop at the Tale of the Whale restaurant in Nags Head, NC for some fresh seafood, drinks on the sound, and live music.

I'm a huge dessert freak and once I tried this frozen pie... well, I'll leave that one up to you.

Yes, I know it's the middle of January, but since it has been such a warm winter for most of us on the East Coast, why not have a little frozen treat? And what's better than chocolate and peanut butter combined?

Here we go!

4oz. softened cream cheese
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup milk
9oz cool whip
1 9" oreo cookie crust
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Whip cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Beat in sugar and peanut butter. Slowly add milk. Add in melted chocolate chips. Fold in cool whip. Pour into oreo pie crust. Sprinkle with crushed chocolate chips, shaved chocolate pieces, or drizzle with a bit of chocolate syrup. Freeze until firm. Keep in freezer until all the deliciousness is gone. Then make more.