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Productivity in motion
thumbGettingStarted.jpg Hello, my name is Eric Mack. I have the privilege of coaching the LEGO Mountaineers. One of the things that I enjoy about coaching the U.S. FIRST Jr. Robotics competitions is the opportunity to teach children vital critical thinking skills while having fun.  

There is nothing quite like the excitement of watching a robot - one that you and your teammates have designed, built, and programmed - move across the playing field autonomously to carry out its missions while the crowd cheers from the stands.


It takes a lot to get there, however, and the adventure that these girls are embarking on is one that will require all sorts of skills, from mechanical, to logical, to critical thinking, to strategy, to sportsmanship, and most important - graceful professionalism.

While some may think of LEGOs and robots as toys, do not be fooled. Getting from a box of parts to a robot that is ready to compete in an autonomous competition requires the same critical thinking and project management skills that it takes to send a spacecraft into space.

One of the many skills that I model for the kids is the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology, by my friend, David Allen. I teach kids the basics of GTD, often without them knowing it, simply by modelling its use in action. Early on, the girls become accustomed to asking "What's the successful outcome," and "what's the next action." It is this step-by-step analysis that helps the kids to learn to break down a complex problem into small but manageable tasks.

2002Robot.jpg
When the "Run" button is pressed and the robot leaves its base to execute its missions, the team will find out how well they did thinking through and preparing to solve each of the challenge missions.
They will have to effectively teach the robot "next action management," which is what I hope that they will learn in the process, which I call "Productivity in motion."

In addition to teaching critical skills such of GTD and mind mapping, this year, I will also be teaching the kids how to use various productivity applications to help them visually organize their thoughts and ideas.

As an eProductivity Specialist at ICA.COM, Inc., I have the opportunity to work with a variety of productivity applications. This year, I approached several of the vendors that I work with to see if they would be willing to partner with us by providing software licenses to the kids on the team. I am pleased to report that each of the companies generously agreed to provide not only the software, but assistance in helping me teach the kids to use the software. It is my desire that long after the competition is over these young people will take away valuable skills and software that they can put to use in school on a daily basis.

I would like to personally thank the following people and companies who are helping me make this possible:


David Allen, of The David Allen Company - David's been a client, mentor, and friend, as well as an inspiration to me for the past 12 years. He has watched Amy and Wendy grow up and they have had the privilege of participating in his seminars. David's got a great vision of helping the world to get more done by teaching basic productivity skills. It's been fun for us to watch my daughters grow up learning the skills that I wish I had learned as a kid.

Kathy Beeghly
and Roan Kang of the Microsoft OneNote Team - Kathy and Roan were willing volunteers to help me teach the girls to use OneNote to keep track of their information.

Hobie Swan
, of MindJet - Hobie did not hesitate to respond with an offer to help, once I described what I wanted to do. Thanks for your vision and willingness to participate.

Nick Duffill
, of Gyronix  - Nick's company makes a powerful add-in for MindManager that allows for visual project management, using the GTD methodology. I plan put Nick's software to work to help the team track and manage the many aspects of preparing for the competition.

Steve Castledine
of ProjectDX - Steve's blogging software allows the team to contribute their updates, so that you can follow our progress from the children's perspective.

To the parents, mentors, and kids on the team:


A big measure of thanks goes to the parents and mentors -- the people who work with me, week after week, as we teach the kids.

Finally, to the children on the team, I extend my profound gratitude. It is a privilege to coach the team, and I have learned a lot in the process.

There is a great deal to be done, and not much time in which to do it. The competition is less than 12 weeks away. Our typical project schedule goes something like this: work hard for 8 weeks -- miracle occurs here -- compete. I hope to be able to use the above resources to help change this schedule a bit.

I am grateful for the opportunity that this year's sponsors, partners, and mentors have provided. I look forward to sharing our progress on this site, in the Coach's Corner, and on my own personal Blog.

Eric Mack, Coach
The LEGO Mountaineers

Posted by Eric Mack at 09:09:39 PM on 09/21/2004

Tuesday, September 21st, 2004

Productivity in motion

Hello, my name is Eric Mack. I have the privilege of coaching the LEGO Mountaineers. One of the things that I enjoy about coaching the U.S. FIRST Jr. Robotics competitions is the opportunity to teach children vital critical thinking skills while having fun.  

There is nothing quite like the excitement of watching a robot - one that you and your teammates have designed, built, and programmed - move across the playing field autonomously to carry out its missions while the crowd cheers from the stands.


It takes a lot to get there, however, and the adventure that these girls are embarking on is one that will require all sorts of skills, from mechanical, to logical, to critical thinking, to strategy, to sportsmanship, and most important - graceful professionalism.

While some may think of LEGOs and robots as toys, do not be fooled. Getting from a box of parts to a robot that is ready to compete in an autonomous competition requires the same critical thinking and project management skills that it takes to send a spacecraft into space.

One of the many skills that I model for the kids is the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology, by my friend, David Allen. I teach kids the basics of GTD, often without them knowing it, simply by modelling its use in action. Early on, the girls become accustomed to asking "What's the successful outcome," and "what's the next action." It is this step-by-step analysis that helps the kids to learn to break down a complex problem into small but manageable tasks.

2002Robot.jpg
When the "Run" button is pressed and the robot leaves its base to execute its missions, the team will find out how well they did thinking through and preparing to solve each of the challenge missions.
They will have to effectively teach the robot "next action management," which is what I hope that they will learn in the process, which I call "Productivity in motion."

In addition to teaching critical skills such of GTD and mind mapping, this year, I will also be teaching the kids how to use various productivity applications to help them visually organize their thoughts and ideas.

As an eProductivity Specialist at ICA.COM, Inc., I have the opportunity to work with a variety of productivity applications. This year, I approached several of the vendors that I work with to see if they would be willing to partner with us by providing software licenses to the kids on the team. I am pleased to report that each of the companies generously agreed to provide not only the software, but assistance in helping me teach the kids to use the software. It is my desire that long after the competition is over these young people will take away valuable skills and software that they can put to use in school on a daily basis.

I would like to personally thank the following people and companies who are helping me make this possible:


David Allen, of The David Allen Company - David's been a client, mentor, and friend, as well as an inspiration to me for the past 12 years. He has watched Amy and Wendy grow up and they have had the privilege of participating in his seminars. David's got a great vision of helping the world to get more done by teaching basic productivity skills. It's been fun for us to watch my daughters grow up learning the skills that I wish I had learned as a kid.

Kathy Beeghly
and Roan Kang of the Microsoft OneNote Team - Kathy and Roan were willing volunteers to help me teach the girls to use OneNote to keep track of their information.

Hobie Swan
, of MindJet - Hobie did not hesitate to respond with an offer to help, once I described what I wanted to do. Thanks for your vision and willingness to participate.

Nick Duffill
, of Gyronix  - Nick's company makes a powerful add-in for MindManager that allows for visual project management, using the GTD methodology. I plan put Nick's software to work to help the team track and manage the many aspects of preparing for the competition.

Steve Castledine
of ProjectDX - Steve's blogging software allows the team to contribute their updates, so that you can follow our progress from the children's perspective.

To the parents, mentors, and kids on the team:


A big measure of thanks goes to the parents and mentors -- the people who work with me, week after week, as we teach the kids.

Finally, to the children on the team, I extend my profound gratitude. It is a privilege to coach the team, and I have learned a lot in the process.

There is a great deal to be done, and not much time in which to do it. The competition is less than 12 weeks away. Our typical project schedule goes something like this: work hard for 8 weeks -- miracle occurs here -- compete. I hope to be able to use the above resources to help change this schedule a bit.

I am grateful for the opportunity that this year's sponsors, partners, and mentors have provided. I look forward to sharing our progress on this site, in the Coach's Corner, and on my own personal Blog.

Eric Mack, Coach
The LEGO Mountaineers

posted by Eric Mack at 09:09:39 PM | View Full Comments Inline [5]