On the 7th of December, my team, CTRL+ALT+DEL, took a flight to Sydney for the National Championships. We all had to wake up at around 3:00am to get ready for our flight, which was at 6:35am. For us, getting ready wasn’t a hard thing to do at all. We woke up on time, and we managed to quickly but drowsily get dressed. My mother and I drove to Josh’s house, to pick Josh and his father up; we were all going to the airport in the same car together. Josh and I got into a discussion about Doctor Who as we drove on the freeway to get to Melbourne, and we soon arrived at the airport. As we were walking to the elevator, we saw Miss Rapinett’s car with Kyle, his mother, and his sister. We waited for them to park and we all went to Terminal 1 together.
We saw everybody else there, and the tickets were handed out; we were ready to go through the security check-in. We all joined the line, and after about ten minutes, we went through and we went to the gate for the departing flight. After waiting a little bit, it was time to depart for Sydney.
Before we took off, Mrs Gilligan checked where the bag with the robot was, but it turned out, she didn’t know where it was. She made us all pause for about twenty seconds, as we watched her frantically going through the overhead lockers. We breathed a sigh of relief as she finally located our robot, Jeffery. The flight was quite brief, which was good, and we arrived safely at the Sydney airport. We went to the carousel to collect some things, then we took two small buses to Macquarie University.
We took all of our stuff out of the buses when we arrived, and we quickly went to the ‘pit area’, where all the teams would gather when they were waiting for their matches or for their presentations. There was no-one there, because it was almost time for the opening ceremony. We put our equipment down at our table, and we rushed to the opening of the competition. We were there just in time as they started talking. The host talked about the Core Values, and he explained what FIRST® in FIRST® Lego League stood for. He explained that it stood for ‘For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology’. He explained there would be sixty different robot matches in the entire day. With 36 teams to get through three times, that was going to be a challenge.
After the ceremonial, all of the teams went to the pit area, and we had a little robot practice. After that, we were told to go to our technical judging. We all waited until we could go inside, knowing when the judges signalled that we could come inside the room. Zoe, David, Thomas, Nivethan and Sean showed the judges our robot, Jeffery. They talked them through and showed them the missions it could do, and the judges looked pretty impressed by the expression of their faces. After the judging, we went back to the pit area.
Henna and Zoe with the National Championship Cup
We were told that we had to go to the Core Values judging next. The Core Value components are Discovery, Integration, Inclusion, and Coopertition®. We talked to the judges about the incorporation of the three schools, the challenges we faced while doing the project, and how we overcame it. The judges were impressed about the fact that we used modern technology such as Skype and school-friendly networks to talk between the three schools. We were given a team challenge to do, so the judges could see how we worked together as a team.
Next, on our busy schedule was our first robot run. We did an excellent run, with 438 points. We were very proud of it. We left the competition hall quickly as we were rushing to get to our main project presentation. This year, the FLL Nature’s Fury was about natural disasters, and for our project, we chose to do Bushfires. This is where the research component came in. The hours of tireless research done was supposed to be incorporated in a five-minute presentation before two judges.
Not only did we present facts about bushfires, but we had a solution and a prototype of our robot, the Hot Spot Spotter 1.0. The robot is a drone that goes out with at least one-hundred more robots to look for trees that are internally combusting. It is a threat because it can start a new fire. Firemen usually do the job by using thermal detectors to monitor every tree in the area, but it is a slow and dangerous process. The Hot Spot Spotter gets the job done quicker, and it doesn’t endanger the life of firemen. They are also cost-effective, so they are easy to replace in case a few go down. It sends the thermal images to a grid. If the robot finds a tree that in combusting, it will send the co-ordinates back to base so they can send a team of firefighters to put the fire out.
After the presentation, we went back to the main hall to watch the other robot matches and our second robot run, only to find out that we had missed the first one. The judges agreed to give us a chance of three runs only if the last two runs were back-to-back. Our second run wasn’t the best; we came out with a score of 220 points. We had some problems with the line-up, but we regained our dignity at our last run; which was incidentally the last run of the competition. At the very last moment, with three seconds on the clock, we managed to put Jeffery in the red zone, making the last score a whopping 519 points out of a possible 530 points. We were so astonished by the result.
As that was the last game, pretty much everyone was packed up. We went back to the pit area to pack up, but Mrs Gilligan said to go back to the main hall for the final ceremony. We had trouble finding seats, but we finally found our seats in the very front. The ceremonial begun, and the judges started to hand out awards for various categories.
We won the Robot Performance award, thanks to the final robot run. We were very excited to get the Performance award, but the cherry on the top was when they announced that our team, CTRL + ALT + DEL, one out the 36 teams participating, won the Championships of Australia! We were overwhelmed by our achievement, and we were celebrating.
After it finished, everyone filed out of the hall, and we had to take the same small buses to the Sydney airport. We all had something to eat, then we departed to Melbourne. Tired, we arrived at 9:00pm in Melbourne. Once again, we dropped off Josh and his father at their home, and we also went home, having a good rest.
This was one of the most memorable moments of my life, and I was very happy to share it with some of my closest friends, awesome teachers and school principals, and our families. I’d like to use this opportunity to thank all of our sponsors, especially RoboGals; without their help, our success wouldn’t be possible.
Nos vemos en España!
By Henna 2013