Where do I begin? This week has been more than I could have ever imagined. I'm so beyond thankful that I was able to spend it with my team and all of my new FIRST friends.
Traveling in the crate was really crazy. I just sat there with all of the tools for what felt like a really long time. While I was there, I dreamed about what the World Championship would be like. Meanwhile, the girls were back at home getting ready. They made a ton of buttons and bows, packed their suitcases, had meetings, and prepared themselves. They gradually got more and more excited for the big adventure.
Bright and early Wednesday morning, a small group of mentors and girls went to the airport to meet me in Saint Louis. Only a few of my team members would be allowed in the pit on Wednesday, so this small group needed to do all of the set up, registration, and preparation on their own. They checked in, went through security, ate some breakfast, and waited at the gate. They were so excited to find out that they were on the same flight as our friends from MOE 365 and Miss Daisy 341! Around this same time, the rest of the girls were arriving at school. They had to go to their first 3 classes before they could leave for their flight with the rest of the mentors and parents. As soon as the first group landed, they headed over to the hotel. They relaxed in the lobby for a while and got lunch until it was time to go to the dome. Meanwhile, the rest of the girls were arriving at the airport and checking in. While they waited near the gate, they had a lot of fun talking about how thrilling the week would be. At the dome, the girls and mentors started by checking in. Everyone received name badges! Even better, FIRST Mid Atlantic gave all of our team members and mentors ribbons for the badges! When the girls walked into the pit area, they saw my crate immediately! Our pit was located right by the pit entrance! They immediately opened up the crate and unloaded everything. When I saw them, I was so happy! I looked around and saw so many pits and robots. This place was crazy! Immediately, they hung up the lights and banner, organized the tools, and got me ready. By this point, I was pretty used to how the first day routine goes so I wasn't worried. They did some quick work on my bumpers and got me inspected. They even chatted with a few teams! Then, it was time to head back to the hotel and pick up the second group of girls and mentors. A few people went out to dinner while the rest of the girls got settled in their rooms. Everyone got to bed early because they knew that it was going to be a long and thrilling week.
Thursday morning, the girls woke up, got ready, ate breakfast, and loaded up in the team vans early so they could be ready when the competition day began. When the rest of the girls saw the dome for the first time, they were amazed. They walked straight to the pit to see me. From there, some girls went to the stands to cheer during the matches. Other girls took me to the field to get connected. The walk to the field was much longer than at district competitions. We walked past all of the pits, which was nice because it gave me the chance to see other team and robots. There were teams from EVERYWHERE! Everyone was so nice, and it was such a positive atmosphere! The girls loved getting to meet them all. To get into the queue, the drivers had to show their badges and go into the dome. We travelled through many tunnels and paths until finally, we got to Tesla field where I would be playing. Right after that, I had my first match. I was a bit nervous. Even though I've driven in plenty of matches before, this time was different. The room was huge. So many people were watching. My team placed me on the field and I got ready. I crossed the rock wall I auto, and it was a great way to start my day. At the end of the match, the girls picked me up and brought me back to the pit. I had 4 more matches that day, and they all were very fun! I got to interact with some really cool robots. I played defense, scaled, shot boulders, and crossed defenses. I tried some new strategies that I hadn't tried before. During lunch, the girls walked over to the Innovation Faire and College Row. The younger girls had the opportunity to talk to various universities that they might want to attend. Everyone was able to check out some super cool companies and organizations. Some girls even rode an Air Force simulator! The girls also went to the practice field a few times to practice autonomous. Believe it or not, some of the girls actually met Dean Kamen! After a long day of matches, the girls headed back to the hotel to get ready for Roboprom! It is a dance that one of the teams hosts, and the girls were really looking forward to it. They all put on their dresses and got ready. Before the dance, they ate Chinese food together for dinner. Then, they took pictures together. Because the seniors were missing their prom to be on the trip, the younger girls made them duct tape flower bouquets. At Roboprom, the girls had a lot of fun singing and dancing. At the end of the night, they were exhausted. They went to the hotel and went to bed, excited for the next day.
Friday was a great day! The girls headed out nice and early, ready for another day of matches and fun. Every match, the girls were determined to go out there and do the best they could. They played strong defense when they needed to. They shot a ton of boulders. They consistently scaled. They worked well with their alliance partners. Another group of girls met Woodie Flowers that day! The girls also got to meet one of my robot friends - Paquito from Panteras 2283. He is an outreach robot, and he is so fun! The Panteras even gave our team a small stuffed pantera as a gift! We have talked to them so much on social media, so meeting them in person was amazing! During lunch, the girls had a long break. After they are, they went back to the pit and relaxed. Some girls rested. Others played Mario Kart with our friends from the team next to our pit, Simple Machines 423. In one of the matches, all of the seniors were on the drive team together. Hannah and Eliza are always on drive team, but Joanie got to join them as the second driver. I had so much fun being on the field with her! Finally, the time came for me to drive in what would be my final match of the season. It was a sad time, but it was also a celebration of all that my team accomplished this season. The girls went to the field and had the best match of their entire season. It was a great way to go out. I did everything I could possibly do in one match - had a successful autonomous program, played defense, crossed defenses, scored, and scaled. We won, and we had a blast doing it! It was so thrilling! Afterwards, I was reweighed by the inspectors. Then, the team went back to the hotel to clean up. They did some team bonding before they went out to dinner. During bonding, the seniors showed their appreciation for the other girls and everything that they have done for them. At dinner, the team celebrated Eliza's birthday with cake! It was a really fun night full of pasta, jokes, and team stories.
Saturday was the final day of competition. The girls sent Hannah and Eliza to the field first thing for awards and alliance selections. It was really fun to cheer on all of the amazing teams who won awards! Seeing which teams were selected for alliances was also really interesting. All of the alliances were careful to choose robots who would compliment their own skills. My team was not selected, but it was ok. They had a lot of fun anyway! They went to pack up the pit, including me. I went in the crate and got comfortable for my long trip home. The girls had fun with the mentors (one even rode around on the cart!), danced in the stands, cheered on other robots, and talked to some of their FIRST friends! Then, the team went bowling with their friends from Cyber-Crusaders 272 and Simple Machines 423. That was a really fun adventure! They ate lunch there, too. After they were finished, they walked back to the dome to watch the Einstein matches. Those were amazing! The robots all worked together and accomplished some really cool tasks. The girls cheered really loudly from the stands Will.i.am was even there! Let's just say what happens in Saint Louis, stays in Saint Louis (#tsimfd). Once the winner was declared, things got crazy. Giant white balls with lights were bouncing all around the stands. The finale party was about to begin. Dean, Woodie, and many other friends of FIRST gave speeches. After that, the party could begin! Stikyard played drums and got the evening started! They had drums on bicycles, huge drums, and bucket drums. Then, the Jesse White Tumblers performed! They jumped, flipped, cartwheeled, and did many amazing tricks! Finally, Eclipse danced behind a screen to create art with their shadows. Their performance was stunning. The girls were ready to go back to the hotel after that. There, they packed up and went to bed in the hotel for the final time.
Sunday morning, the girls and mentors left in groups for their various flights. Everyone was bummed that the trip was over. It was such an amazing way to end the season. Luckily for me, once I get out of this crate, I will not have to sit in that bag anymore! I'm sure my team and I will have many more adventures before the end of the school year. As always, you will be able to see what we are up to here on the blog and on all of the team's social media sites. On behalf of the team, I would like to thank all of you for following me on my journey. When I first came into existence back in January, I had no idea where this season would take me. Little did I know, I would be at the World Championship. This has been the best season a robot could ever ask for.
P.S. I have attached the team's daily vlog entries from Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday below. The competition round up video is coming soon!