I have to admit I was a little concerned when we headed off to Atlanta this year that our experience would pale in comparison to that of last year. This year we knew what to expect and I wondered if it would have that same sort of magic and excitement. I am pleased to say that this year was every bit as incredible as last year, but in a different way. Perhaps a bit like apples and oranges?
With the experience from last year under our belt, we all felt at home and confident. It was so nice to see familiar faces from last year. It was comforting to know where we were going and how things worked. Wednesday’s pit set up went well. We got our pit set up quickly and the kids had time to not only test our our robot (which didn’t enjoy the trip) but to meet many of the other teams. Thursday went exceptionally well for us. Our interviews and presentations all went extremely well. The kids seemed to really be in the groove! They enjoyed interacting with the judges, you could see it in their faces. Our robot’s field runs at the Georgia Dome also went well. At one point were were ranked 6th and ended the day in 8th position. Thursday evening the team had fun singing and unicycling as part of the entertainment at the Ice Cream Social. It was a great way to cap off the day. Friday went well for the most part too. We had several friends join us on the field to cheer and a large cheering section in the stands thanks to our family and local FRC team 2809, K-botics. The support was awesome! We did have one particularly bad run on the table that greatly effected our final ranking, but even the challenge of having to do robot repairs during the 2.5 minute run was amazing. It gave the team a chance to show how well they can work under pressure, problem solving and working as a team. I was so proud of their determination! Friday we also had a chance to chat for quite a while with Scott Evans, the field set designer. He’s such a great guy! We also fulfilled our team goal and met FIRST founder, Dean Kamen. To make the experience absolutely over the top, we also chatted with Woodie Flowers for a bit on the floor of the Georgia Dome. What an incredible man! When he heard that this was our second year in a row attending the World Festival as a Core Values Team he actually got down on his knees and bowed to the kids. As if that wasn’t enough he asked all the kids to sign his shirt and even held our robot while they did so. What an amazing sight! The rest of Friday was spent juggling all the judges that were looking to talk to us. I lost count of them, but there were at least 12 that came by. The poor kids barely had time to use the washroom! We also had a lot of fun taking pictures with the camera phones we were given for the Team Alliance Activity. Saturday morning we headed to the Ballroom at the Omni for the FLL closing ceremonies. There we were recognized not only as a Core Values team, but for a 2nd place Programming Award. Afterward we headed back to the Georgia Dome to cheer the many FRC teams we have come to know. The day wrapped up with the Finale party at the park, where a couple of the kids even got to meet FIRST president, Paul Gudonis. I’m always amazed by the festivities. The food, the games, the entertainment, and of course the fireworks.