I turned 41 yesterday. I spent most of my birthday in a cow suit. And a shiny red cape. Forty-one seems like a good time to reinvent the birthday suit, and luckily I had an exquisite opportunity.
A few weeks ago, my pal Sherry emailed to ask me if I would emcee the FIRST Lego League robotics competition at ISU. Twenty-four teams of 6-10 middle schoolers each competed in an event in which they were judged on a research project presentation, their Lego robot design, a teamwork exercise and overall robot performance. Half of the teams advanced to a state competition in January and from there, some will go to Nationals. Since its inception in 1989, FIRST [For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology] has become the premier STEM program for middle schoolers through their Lego League and high schoolers with robotics.
I met Sherry when I volunteered to emcee 6-7 years ago. I don't quite know what her "day job" is all year, but she works at ISU's ESTEC (Energy Sytems and Technology Education Center). She pulls together this tournament annually with amazing execution. I had been a judge for the event in 2003, and it's tough. I much prefer directing behind the mirophone. Previously, I've worn a Ninja Turtle t-shirt with a black jacket and Converse sneakers. Boooooring...
This year, I went as "The Cow-culator". My red cape has a calculator sewn into the back.
I let everyone know throughout the day, that they had unwittingly come to my birthday party. Hooray! I was explaining this blog to the crowd and that I needed a picture of all of my birthday "guests". Speaking of unwitting....you'd think if you were taking a selfie, you'd actually smile as you took the picture. Let's call this, "Clueless Cow"
There's often a need for improv while the judges deliberate and cow-culate. Luckily the high school robotics team is on hand as volunteers and they led us in the macarena. Video whould have been priceless.
I gingerly encouraged all the lil future engineers among the crowd to give it a whirl because my experience has shown that the technically minded are not the most coordinated of dancers. I, myself, am an excellent marcher, but quite a horrible dancer. Until it comes to the macarena. This one, I can do!! The only near slip of the day came when I belted through the microphone, "Shake your udders!"
The entire group sang "Happy Birthday," and I received at least 40 personal and heartfelt "Happy Birthday's" throughout the day from exciteable, bubbly, awkward, and kind middle schoolers--and a few parents, too. It was a beautiful bovine birthday.