Do you like engineering? Or perhaps science? How about art? All of these things combined make FLL, the “First LEGO League!” Teams from all across the world have to design and build a robot, as well as create a project based on the year’s chosen theme. On November 21, 2015, I went to Rick Hansen Secondary School with my team to compete in the FLL Regional competition.
I heard my mom talking about FLL and I really wanted to try it out. During the summer, I had the amazing opportunity to demonstrate my skills and was accepted into an FLL team. I had no clue what was going to happen and I was really eager.
The following week, I learned more about robots and programming. Every day, I would learn something new, like how to fix a Gyro drift. I would apply all of the knowledge I had learned and try it out myself. I also discovered that FLL is not all about robots, it is also about fun, respecting other people’s opinions and getting along with them.
During September, my coaches formed teams and I joined one called “Enginerds.” My teammates and I continuously worked on our robot. We had to rebuild the robot three times! We also worked on our project. This year, FLL’s theme was Trash Trek, so we decided to do our project on how to store plastic bags.
Before we knew it, it was our practice competition day. On November 14, 2015, I went to Rick Hansen at 8:00am. It wasn’t what I expected it to be. There was an area called the “Pit,” where every team set up their project and robots. There was also a little stage where judges and organizers stood and watched the teams. The little rooms around us were judging rooms: one for robot design, one for the project and one for core values and gracious professionalism.
My team received the best project award. Our solution for storing and simplifying the recycling of plastic bags was to use 3M hooks on a cupboard door. You simply placed plastic bags on the hooks and put the rest of your plastic bags in the first plastic bag.
“5… 4… 3… 2… 1… BEEP!” The timer rang loud as I covered my ears. The competition arena was filled with chants and shouts. It was CRUNCH TIME!!!
I got up at 6:30am and skipped breakfast. I went to Rick Hansen Secondary School and repeated the same routines as the week before, only this time it was much more stressing. The Pit was set up differently and a gym was used as competition space. At the beginning, every team met in the gym for an introduction of what we were going to be doing that day. The organizers also invited a Councillor of Mississauga, Ron Starr, to give a speech.
Right after the brief meeting, our team went straight to the robot design room where we explained how our robot worked and it’s design. I always felt confident about our team. When our presentation was finally over, everyone felt relieved; but the competition wasn’t over yet! My team talked about how we did and prepared for our next presentation.
The next presentation was about our project. Storing plastic bags, especially after grocery shopping, can become extremely disorganized and frustrating. In addition, it’s important that the bags don’t fly away in the wind on recycling day. To solve this problem, we decided to use two hooks that can hang on your kitchen cupboard door. You would first put a plastic bag onto the hooks then insert as many plastic bags as you want into the first plastic bags. On recycling day, you would tie the first plastic bag with the other plastic bags in it and place it in your recycling bin. The judges liked our idea and our team felt proud of ourselves. When we exited, Councillor Ron Starr was there! Our team shared our ideas with him and he was very impressed.
The “Enginerds” proceeded to the Core Value Room for a mini challenge. When we got there, a box with a golf ball in it and a bunch of art materials lay on the table. The challenge was to get the golf ball out of the box without physically touching it.The judges started our time. Five minutes was on the clock!
The first thing we did was to read the instructions. We started brainstorming ideas about how we could get the golf ball out. Someone thought about scooping it up with a paper bag, another person thought about making a pipe cleaner ramp. Suddenly, someone thought that we could stab the box with wooden skewers and flip the golf ball out! It was a success!
Our team went to the gym to compete in the robot game. In the end, we did not win anything, but we learned a lot and were satisfied with our journey in preparation for this event. We put in a lot of effort, and the experience of the competition was worth it.