Houston Girl Scouts and First LEGO League Robotics Competition

Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council Houston organizes several teams of girls to compete in the First LEGO League robotics competition in January. There is much more to Girl Scouts than cookies and camp outs.

Guess what!?  I am one of the coaches (I know, I am surprised too).  My daughter loves computers and LEGOS so why not get her involved with a group of girls who have the same interests.

Since science and technology are not one of my strongest skills, I am using a book entitled “First Lego League the unofficial guide” written by two young science wizards named James Floyd Kelly and Jonathan Daudelin as a tutorial guide.

Although the book is very helpful especially when it comes to  team formation and organizing the league, I do wish they could have dumbed the robotic construction detail down a little more for people who want to learn about the gears but in tiny baby steps.  Also,  they could have added a few more pictures.  Overall the book is helpful and I will continue to keep you updated on how I am using the book in preparation for the competition.

As the coach, I am learning all of these new robotic programming skills about 48 hours before the girls learn the skills themselves.  I wish that this program was in every elementary school in the United States.  Kids need to learn about science and technology in an environment that encourages creativity not rote memorization.

My smart team of Girl Scouts will not only compete in an robotic programming tournament but they are also responsible for preparing a report that proposes solutions to the climate change problem that currently exists in Houston.  The girls are learning about science in a fun creative way without the restrictions of a classroom environment where students are punished for making a mistake.  The team learns from their mistakes and turns them into opportunities to teach themselves what to do better as a team.

My son is only 6 years old but he has tagged along to the team meetings and seems to have the talent of robotic programming.  The FLL has a competition for 6-9 year-olds too.    If you are a parent who is interested in having their 6-9 year old compete in the Junior FLL, please leave a comment and we will form a team.  There are many schools and home schooled kids who train all Fall for the competition in the Winter.

The robot/software/kit can be purchased at any time for kids or adults (my husband loves to experiment with the gears). The robot and the software called “LEGO Mindstorms” can be purchased at the Baybrook Mall LEGO store or you could order the set on line at LEGO.Com.   Here is the website link:  http://mindstorms.lego.com.

Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council will also be forming a Robotics interest group in the next few weeks.   If you have a daughter who loves or even dislikes science and math, this is the perfect opportunity for her to learn plus have fun at the same time.

Here is the website:  http://www.gssjc.org/ or contact Julie Deeter at jdeeter@sjgs.org 713-292-0203 for more information.

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Houston/Katy Photographers’ Beautiful Portraits For The Holidays

Update:   Mention to Mr. Diaz that you saw this post about “Watch Me Grow Portrait Studio” on this website and he will provide a free sitting fee plus a 8 x 10 portrait.  Stop by his studio and take a look at all the beautiful portraits of families.  Book early before the Thanksgiving and Christmas rush.

These beautiful family portraits were taken by photographer, Martin Diaz of “Watch Me Grow Portrait Studio” in Houston.  The studio is located on the Grand Parkway next to HEB grocery store in Katy, Texas.  Here is the “Watch Me Grow Portrait Studio” contact information:

6711 South Fry Road, Katy, TX 281-574-4422.

It is not too early to start thinking about Christmas portraits for the family.

Up until last year I ran around to all of the “plain” picture taking places like Sears, Picture People and Penney’s.  Never again.  I used to make an appointment over the phone, spend two hours getting my kids all pretty, rush to the mall and wait, wait, wait………..   By the time it was my families’ turn to take our pictures the kids were grumpy and there was no way any photographer was getting a smile from the kids.

The studio is quiet and private.   Trust this photographer because he knows about what poses, props and backgrounds look best for the family.  He is very warm and friendly which comes in handy when the kids get a little inpatient.

All photography is the property of Martin Diaz.  Please contact Mr. Diaz for permissions.

Hurricane Ike: Power, CenterPoint and Kids

Please note:  All the opinions expressed in this blog are mine alone.  I do not work for the Food Stamp office, CenterPoint or FEMA.  If I know a website that I can point you to for the information you need, I will email you the information.  Keep trying to get the help you need and never give up.

Thanks to all of you who shared your stores, offered encouragement and gave a positive vibe to all who read the blog.  I think the children (everywhere) did a great job through this little storm trouble.  The kids learned to play outside and to share our Nintendo charge power with other kids in the neighborhood.  I could say my family and I are back to normal but really ….who wants to go back to (power gluttony) normal?

My heart goes out to all of those still without power.   I know it is a long waiting game.  Call CenterPoint right now if you do not have power.  Next, try the mayor of Houston.

The Houston Chronicle is having a contest on the best “no electricity” story.  The best story writer wins a spa treatment.  Check this site for more information:  http://blogs.chron.com/tmi/2008/10/power_to_the_people_win_a_spa.html

In my opinion, eating out every day is not a big thrill.  It is so nice to bake some biscuits in the morning for breakfast.  My kids are back to eating pancakes and toaster strudel.  I think that the kids kind of miss the doughnuts and kolaches but we were starting to go bankrupt on the food bills.

We have power now but I do worry about having to depend on one entity for electricity.  My husband and I have talked about installing a few solar panels or a natural gas generator (one that acts as back-up power connected to home gas line).

I have bought a few groceries however I am still afraid the stock-up the freezer right now.  Many people took a big hit as far as the food/grocery bill goes in Houston.  Houston is very humid/hot in the month of September (when is Houston not sweltering hot?) and food without refrigeration does not last longer than a day.  The only refrigerated food item I was able to save was butter.  Yes, butter.   I love baking and I tend to buy the 4 block package of butter from Sam’s club.

Everyone, please keep safe and most importantly….keep cool!