Again, we woke up really early to go to Starbucks. After another amazing breakfast, we headed out to the Cobo Center. The day before, our coaches had signed out a practice table to test our robot. We took our robot, Evie out and rolled her towards the practice tables on the cart. Unfortunately, every practice table session is only ten minutes long. We did some minor tweaking to the robot code and soon enough, our time was up. So we reluctantly left the table. Everyone slumped back in some chairs at our booth, anxious to get back to the practice table.
Of course, the coaches tried to give us a motivational speech to cheer us up. The booth across ours was another Massachusetts team called the Brain Busters. They were giving out fake squishy brains that helped with stress and anger. Before we knew it, it was time for their first match. Anika and Hannah were ready to run the robot. We waited anxiously for them to call us into the box for the match.
Anika aligned the robot while Hannah put on the many attachments. The rest of us checked everything just to make sure. The announcers soon called our team name and we cheered at the top of our lungs. Then the familiar stressful noise went off to start the match, the rest of us began to do the chant.
“Dragons, Dragons, We’re the BEST! D-R-A-G-O-N-S! Goooooo Day Dragons!”
“Yay!!!!!!!!” we all cheered as the robot dropped the Big Water into the fountain and pushed the tripod into the target. 40 points on the board! The arm dropped to push the toilet, but missed.
“Awww man,” We muttered, but had to keep our spirits up because there’s no point in being sad before the match was even over!
The arm raised slightly, the robot moved back, then the arm dropped again to pick up a pipe. We cheered again. Evie turned and dropped the blue pipe to replace the one that we had just picked up. The pipe was placed perfectly in the center. 40 more points on the board. Evie drove over to the faucet trying to turn the nob, but failed. For what felt like forever, Evie steered back to base. Quickly Hannah and Anika realigned the robot and put on the right attachments. We attempted the Filter mission next. Evie drove into the slider and pushed it in. 30 more points. Hannah took the robot and realigned it for another set of missions. The rain trickled out of the model as Evie pushed the pump into the slot. 40 more points. Allison was panicking as she watched, shouting directions. Evie came back and Anika realigned for the Flow mission, she launched it, Evie pushed into the lever, and the big water came out of the other side. 25 more points. The announcer shouts “30 seconds remaining”, so Hannah and Anika swiftly put the new attachments on and run the robot in a last push. Evie pushes the Well perfectly into the target and her back arm drops to put down the slingshot. 45 more points. Finally, the announcer counts down “3, 2, 1! Good job everyone!” The referee came over and walked us through our points and missions. We are all super happy with our performance. Evie was put back in the cart and rolled pit of the matches area.
Swiftly, we all walked over to the TV projecting the robot scores. It felt like forever before we saw our score. 200 points!!!!! We had already met one of our goals of beating our State championships robot score. We all screamed and cheered together, celebrating our victory. Everyone couldn’t believe it. Our first round was amazing! Usually, first rounds didn’t go as well as we want them to, but our robot is much more reliable now.
We happily walked back to our booth. The coaches had again signed us up for a practice table. Our practice table was still 15 minutes away, so we sat in the booth. Since we had been walking around the whole day, it was a luxury to sit down.
Ten minutes later, we headed over to the practice tables. Esha and Kavya were running the robots next so they practiced. Since, all the practice and match tables were different, it was hard to tweak little things. Practice tables were our best friends at the competition. Without them, our robot would have been a disaster. Now that we had finished tweaking things to match the tables, we just ran the robot for extra practice. Before we knew it, it was time for our second match.
Kavya and Esha prepared to run the robot. They went over all the attachments and alignments just to make sure. We all knew we were all ready because of all the practice we had, but the stress was weighing heavily on our shoulders. We checked in at the desk and a volunteer brought us to the waiting box. Soon enough, we were called to the table. Kavya and Esha set up the robot for the match.
A couple minutes later, the announcer started the match. “3, 2, 1, LEGO!”
Evie was off. Right away we could see that the alignment was off, so we grabbed Evie to try again. 5 point penalty. Kavya aligned it again. The rest of the run didn’t go as well as we wanted it to, but we had a pretty good run. We soon realized that many of Evie’s sensors hadn’t been plugged in fully, but looked like they were, that’s why we didn’t realize it sooner, so we quickly plugged them in.
After the run, we headed back to the scoreboard. Again, it took forever for it to update. 135 points. We were disappointed, but not every run could go perfectly.
It was finally time for lunch. We all walked to the food court, apparently when we are stressed, we eat. Quickly, we grabbed our food and stood at a table, and first, we sat at the window sill, we were very stressed out, so the coaches found us a place to sit down. The older girls, (all the seventh graders) sat at one table, while the fifth graders, sat at a “two person only” table, Miranda and Esha slowly sipped their soda in silence, while they other laughed and chatted, but we were starving, so the pizza and pasta were devoured before anyone could say “FIRST Lego League.”
45 minutes later, our second match popped up in our face. It was time for Allison and Miranda to run the robot. We’re standing in the box cheering Allison and Miranda. Allison is skillfully, and as calm as ever, is lining up the robot. The rest of the team seems more nervous than Miranda and Allison! Miranda is is jumping at the robot the minute it’s fully in base and is ready to go seconds later. The first mission doesn’t work again. What seemed to be our most reliable mission still isn’t working. We move on and mission after mission we finish with almost everything going smoothly. It’s our final run and even though not everything worked, we were proud.
We wandered through Cobo Center and ended up in a quiet hallway with large windows. Our taxi driver had told us on the day we had gotten here that the buildings on the other side of this large body of water was Canada, even though we were facing south. It was so weird and cool at the same time. We then saw a gorgeous boat slowly cruising through the water.
We found ourselves at the end of the hallway and played games and sang, getting a few looks from people walking by, but who cares?! Finally, all the judging and matches were done, and as much as we love robotics, we couldn’t help but feel happy that it was finally time for the closing ceremony and awards.
We later found ourselves back in the pits. Every team was there, waving their flag and singing. We found our booth and grabbed our flag and held our banner high. All the teams had formed a line that snaked its way around the pits. We got closer and closer to the stage, and finally climbed up the stairs to receive medals for making it to Internationals. As we walked down, people from different teams made a pathway for us to walk through and by the end, we joined them in cheering on other teams.
This wasn’t the end yet! We left the pit area anxious to see if we would win any team awards. We had a good amount of time left so we decided to celebrate our achievements, and there was only one way to to that. Ice cream. We all waited in line, ordered, and sat in our own little corner of the building cracking jokes and chatting away. We were exhausted from what a day it had been, though there was more to come.
Minutes later, we climbed up to the second floor waiting for those large doors to open. Behind those doors, teams would be given awards and first, second, and third place winners would be announced! Finally, after what seemed like ages of waiting, all the teams rushed in eager to get as close to the stage as possible. There was a chorus of gasps as we looked into the room. The room was dimly lit with lights flashing everywhere, there was a huge stage with a large projector slowly changing picture after picture of different teams from around the world.
We all sat down and we could hear music in the background. Some of the teams shown on the projector we had met during these past three days, we laughed and sang along with the songs, hoping for the best, and proud of our matches and judging performance. Then seconds later, our picture showed up on the projector and our whole team, along with coaches and parents, erupted with screams and shouts.