Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Twisted Twizzlers Go to the State Championships!

We, The GFS Twisted Twizzlers Robotics Team, had the amazing experience of going to the State Championship on Saturday, February 26, 2011. On Saturday, we proved our hard work to many people at the UMBC campus. As you may have read in our previous post, our team won the Robot Design award at the FLL Qualifier, and were able to move on to the State Championships.  

Every year, the challenges and themes are different. Last year was called Smart Move, which was based on transportation. Body Forward, the theme this year, focused on medicine and biomedical engineering. 
To read about the 2011 Body Forward Challenge, click here: First Lego League
We arrived at the UMBC Retriever Athletic Center at 9:00 a.m. and prepared for our morning presentations. At 10:00 a.m., we went into a classroom and in front of five judges, we gave a research presentation. Our presentation was on the sense of pressure in a prosthetic hand. We created an innovative solution for prosthetics to feel pressure, and created a wooden model hand with a variable resistor. The judges loved our idea and asked us many questions about our idea.
After the presentation, we moved on to the Technical Judging. This was where we explained our robot design and our programming. After showing some key attachments on our robot, we were able to show some of our programs to the judges. It was really nerve wracking because the programs usually are not consistent, and when we showed the judges some of the runs, the robot did not function properly. Luckily, we looked at these mistakes as a way to learn and fix our programs for next time.
In the afternoon, we did the challenges. All of the challenges are on a board, and we program the robot to accomplish certain tasks. The programming is what takes up most of our club time on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  For programming, we use the Lego NXT Software, which can be as easy as going forward or as hard as converting letters to numbers. We scored a total of 425 points in the three rounds combined, but we only got the highest score, which was 175. After the rounds were over, they took the top four teams into a sudden death round. We weren’t part of this round, but we enjoyed watching the strategies used by others!
After a long day of competition, the awards ceremony started.  There were many awards given to many teams who showed outstanding effort.  Sadly, we didn’t come home with a trophy, but we did leave with high hopes for next year!  Congratulations to the teams who participated in First Lego League, and good luck to those who are going to the World Festival!
-- Text and photos by Alex T. (GFS Twisted Twizzlers Team Member)


  1. I am proud of you for your commitment to robotics, the many afternoons you gave up to practice and build/program your robots, and for representing GFS with dignity and spirit. Trophy or not, the Twizzlers are winners in my book!

  2. Teena Magaha (parent)March 2, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    Congratulations, Twisted Twizzlers, on a job well done!

  3. Nancy and Stephen G. New York CityMarch 19, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I'm a retired engineer and am impressed with your project. We attended the NYC robotics competition at the Javits Center last weekend. It's said that our young people are technologically lagging behind other competing cultures, but the effort, skills and enthusiasm of the competitors was reassuring. Keep up the good work. Your reward is the experience and knowledge that you've gained.

  4. @Mr.McManus and @TeenaMagaha:
    Thank you so much for your support! I know that our team did great and I can't wait for next year!
    I'm glad that you liked our project idea! Maybe someday, our plans could come true to help the world around us! Thank you again for the nice comment!

  5. Dave T. (Alex's Dad)April 8, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    good work girls! Nice t shirts and even better robots!