Today’s post was written by Team LEGO Legion of Ohio, USA, FIRST® LEGO® League Innovation Ambassadors from the HYDRO DYNAMICSSM season.
LEGO Legion had the opportunity to attend the Mountain State Open Invitational in West Virginia, USA in July. Advancing outside of your region is an AMAZING accomplishment – take some time to freak out and enjoy it! Because our state competition was in February and the tournament wasn’t until July, we kept things light and set reasonable goals after taking some down time. Before leaving, we decorated our vans and were thankful we didn’t have to fly our robot across the country… or the world! We even bungeed our pit decorations to the ceiling of our van!
At Opens, your pit isn’t just where you dump your stuff – it’s more like a vendor booth where you can showcase your team, state, and even your country! Every team had super creative decorations. The pits were a great reminder that FIRST LEGO League is truly worldwide. Most teams give away something that has to do with their country, and we loved trading give-a-ways with international teams. It’s so cool to trade pins with another student who doesn’t speak your language but has spent months working on the same mission models you did! Love isn’t the international language… robots are!
Despite the international flair, the competition itself felt familiar. As a team, we did well representing all the things we had learned over a long season. Even though it was such a big, exciting environment, the actual pieces felt the same as our local tournaments. It was relaxing to have the events spread across two days. During robot runs, we were often paired with a team from a country on the opposite side of the equator who was cheering just as loudly as us… but in a language we didn’t know!
After the competition rounds were over, we partnered with Creative Techno, a team from Uruguay, for a just-for-fun robot alliance round. We spoke different languages, but we were able to work together with gestures and pointing. During the alliance round, we ran their robot on one side of the table, and Creative Techno ran ours. We even named our new alliance team Creative Legion!
At the Open, we joined two other Innovation Ambassador teams to host a workshop about taking your Innovation Project to the next level. The workshop was an idea-filled conversation about finding great contacts and resources. Since we don’t bump into other Innovation Ambassadors often, it was fun to trade stories and hear about their experiences. The workshops were a great way to learn while competing!
One thing that is unique about an Open is the social events. It’s amazing to meet teams from around the world! We jumped rope with teams from South America and ate ice cream with a team from Mexico.
Our weekend culminated in a closing ceremony like only FIRST® can do, complete with a high five ceremony and lots of applause for the amazing volunteers. We cheered like crazy when our new friends from Uruguay got a Judges’ Award, and again when the two other teams from Ohio won. We started chanting O-HI-O! Of course, you always hold hope you might get an award, but we were completely shocked when our name was called for the THIRD PLACE CHAMPIONS trophy! What an honor. We celebrated by sharing ice cream sandwiches with a team from Massachusetts and another from South America.
Attending the Mountain State Open Invitational was a truly amazing experience! We enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere and the fun, meeting new friends and talking about what FIRST is like in other places.
Thank you to our Global Innovation Award sponsors for all they do to support and inspire young innovators!