Garrett’s FLL robotic teams earns state championships

by | Apr 13, 2018

Team members Sara Fredlock, Laura and Sara Huelskamp said they were honored to bring the first-place champion’s award back to Garrett County. (Photo courtesy Arlene Lantz)

CATONSVILLE, Md. — Garrett County’s FIRST LEGO League Team 3659 NeXT GEN won the First Place Champion’s Award at the Maryland State FIRST LEGO League Championship on Feb. 24 at the campus of University of Maryland Baltimore County.
The local iLEGO Team won the third-pace champion’s Award.
The 72 top Maryland FLL teams competed from across the state.
“I enjoyed seeing all of the other projects,” said team member Sara Fredlock. NeXT GEN qualified for the state championship by winning the First Place Champion’s Award at the Mountain Maryland Qualifier Tournament in December at Northern High School.
As a result of their win at the state competition, NeXT GEN was offered an invitation to compete with 71 other teams from around the world at the FIRST Razorback Invitational in Arkansas in May.
Team member Jett MIller said, “This experience has been great!”
Every year, FIRST challenges teams to create an innovative solution. The theme for the 2017-18 season, Hydrodynamics, asks teams to explore problems with water. This year, NeXT GEN decided to solve the problem of elderly people not drinking enough water.
The team’s solution is the Pick-Me Up Coaster, a drink coaster that reminds the user to drink more water using lights and sounds.
NeXT GEN presented their solution to staff and residents at Allegany Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Cumberland, Md.
“It was great to see the impact that the Pick Me Up Coaster could have for the residents and staff,” team member Serena Lewis said after the presentation.
The team began an experiment at the center to see how the coaster affects fluid intake in residents and will continue to collect data.
“We are excited to work with the team on this project,” Debra Buckalew, nursing home administrator. “Our residents and staff could hardly believe they are middle school students. They were so knowledgeable and professional in their presentation. Dehydration can be such a big problem in the elderly. We think this coaster will be really beneficial for our residents.”
In addition to their project, teams are tasked to build and program a robot to compete in missions on a board related to the theme. NeXT GEN’s robot placed seventh in the state competition.
“It was a great experience to compete at the the state competition,” said team member Laura Huelskamp. “I enjoyed meeting other teams from across the state.”
The third aspect of the FIRST competition is core values. Teams must demonstrate teamwork, gracious professionalism, and good sportsmanship.
NeXT GEN team members are students from all three middle schools in Garrett County.

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