FIRST World Festival

108 teams from more than 88 countries. Three long days of competition. Thousands of STEM students from across the world.

A few days ago, Wednesday through Friday, my team Club Oreo competed in the FIRST Lego League World Festival. Having competed and won Champions’ awards in our Qualifier and Regional tournaments, it was a huge honor to go to Houston for Worlds.

Club Oreo won second in Robot Innovation and Strategy. We scored 395, 265, and 370 on our official runs, even though our max score could’ve been 440. Our robot was named after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—our drivetrain is Raphael, south mission is Donatello, northeast is Michelangelo, and our northwest is Leonardo.

FIRST Lego League is a program for STEM students ranging from ages 9-16. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) challenges us with a topic, this year Hydrodynamics, to find an innovative solution to. We must also build, design, and program a robot—and display core values.

For our project this season, we chose to program an app to help people learn about xeriscaping and how it is beneficial. According to the EPA’s WaterSense website, average American homeowners use 7 billion gallons of water a day, watering more than 40 million acres of turf grass—we use more water on our lawns than our food! For our robot, we brainstormed over the summer possible drivetrains that could help us improve from the previous season, Animal Allies. We had used universal attachments which took too long to take on and off—so we switched to a modular box-and-shell design. This helped us have easier transition between mission runs and obtain the maximum amount of points as possible. We decided to use pneumatics as an innovative solution to a limited amount of motors. Pneumatics is basically air pressure, and we use this for many of our missions.

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Houston Worlds was an amazing experience! I was able to interact with many teams and talk to them about their different culture, lifestyles, and countries. I learned that Chinese, Haitian, and Filipino faucet tap water isn’t drinkable due to the contamination of the pipelines, and they have to boil their water to make it potable. Discovering that so many countries have harder access to clean “white” water makes me realize that Americans are privileged enough to be able to drink right out of a sink faucet.

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