Garrett County’s FIRST Lego League Team 3659 NeXT GEN won the first-place champions’ award at the Maryland State FIRST Lego League Championship Feb. 24 at UMBC in Baltimore.
NeXT GEN team members are students from all three middle schools in Garrett County.
The local iLEGO Team won the third-place champions’ award among the 72 top FLL teams competing 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 at the Mountain Maryland Qualifier Tournament in December at Northern High School in Accident. 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.
“This experience has been great!” Team Member Jett Miller said.
Every year, FIRST challenges teams to create an innovative solution. The theme for the 2017-2018 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. 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,” said Debra Buckalew, the center’s 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.”
After the presentation, team member Serena Lewis said, “It was great to see the impact that the Pick Me Up Coaster could have for the residents and staff.”
In addition to their project, teams built and programmed robots 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 state competition,” Team Member Laura Huelskamp said. “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.
The team has sold Easter eggs made by the United Methodist Emanuel Church and will be selling McDonald’s discount cards along with baked goods from the Taste and See Bakery. The team will be holding a car wash and will be selling tokens from Shimmer and Shine. NeXT GEN will be seeking local sponsorships and will be sponsoring SUGO birthday parties at GEARS in Accident.
There will be a Greene Turtle spirit night from 4-9 p.m. April 16 and a Greene Turtle mug night from 4-8 p.m. April 26. The team will hold a spaghetti dinner at Oak Park Church of the Brethren from 4-8 p.m. April 20. NeXT GEN is also holding a taco and baked potato bar from 4-8 p.m. May 11 at the Pleasant Valley Community Center.