In a nutshell:
The WGM Vikings impressed with their passion for technology, creativity and teamwork and won the regional final of the FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge (FLL) on Saturday evening. This qualified them for the semi-finals in Aachen. Since 2019, the ROSEN Group in Lingen (Ems) has again held the international research and robotics competition on site at the Innovation Center. A total of ten teams from educational institutions in Emsland, Grafschaft Bentheim and Münsterland took part. With the theme "SUPERPOWERED - The Energy of the Future," this year's competition was all about the energy transition.
"Finally, the event takes place in person on site again and allows us to experience this great competitive atmosphere up close. Especially during the Robot Games there is an exciting atmosphere and we can feel the ambition of the teams live. It is great to see how they are enthusiastic about scientific and technical topics such as robotics, artificial intelligence as well as programming and at the same time deal with current topics of society", says Patrik Rosen, representative of the owner family, on the occasion of the event day.
During the several months of preparation, around 70 pupils constructed an autonomous LEGO® robot within their teams and worked on a research project related to the event's motto. In this context, they addressed the questions of how our energy is generated, stored, distributed and consumed, and whether there is enough energy available at all. Finally, it is not self-evident that energy is always and everywhere available. The focus was therefore on future energy generation and its consumption.
"We were especially delighted with this year's seasonal theme. It fits in perfectly with our corporate focus. The energy landscape is changing, and companies like us are changing with it. In the future, hydrogen will play a key role in sustainable energy production worldwide – as well as its safe transport in existing pipeline systems. Hydrogen has therefore been the focus of our development work for years – as well as products for offshore wind farms. With these 'superpowered' solutions, we are paving the way to a sustainable future – for the protection of people and the environment," Rosen continues.
After the opening speech by Dieter Kuper (representing the management), our moderation duo, who took the stage dressed as superheroes, officially kicked off FLL 2023 by shouting "3, 2, 1...LEGO!" With this, the teams went into the presentation of their results. A jury of ROSEN employees evaluated the teams in different disciplines. Thus, for the categories research, robot design and core values, there was a combined 35-minute jury session for each team, in which they first presented their research project and then their LEGO® robot. One thing became quickly apparent: all teams were very creative in their elaboration. For example, the WGM Vikings presented their grown duckweed as a future energy crop. Under optimal conditions, the biomass can be doubled within one day. "Those who dare are welcome to try the duckweeds. They are very nutritious," a WGM Vikings team member explained on stage later during the presentation. In addition, the teams presented topics such as glass batteries in e-mobility, vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells or the disposal of waste from the oceans with green energy. For the evaluation of the core values category, the team spirit and interaction with each other were the most important factors.
At the same time, the teams had the opportunity to warm up for the upcoming Robot Games within a test round in the morning. After that, the three preliminary rounds of this category were directly on the agenda, in which eight teams qualified for the quarterfinals. In the Robot Game, LEGO robots solve predefined tasks on a special playing field with LEGO® models in two and a half minutes and collect as many points as possible. The robot's task was to collect or set free energy units from various sources on the playing field and transport the energy to where it is to be stored or consumed. For example, the robot had to insert a hybrid unit into a car or supply a hydrogen plant with energy units. Two teams competed against each other simultaneously in the competition arena.
From the quarterfinals to the semi-finals, the highlight of the event followed in the evening: the Robot Game final! In the evening atmosphere under the spotlight, the two finalists "SR2A" and "SR2B" delivered an exciting duel. Cheered on by the spectators, the "SR2B" won the final. However, the overall victory was secured by the "WGM Vikings", because in total they scored the most points in all categories. The prizes in the other categories went to "WGM Devils" (Best Robot Design), "sms1" (Best Research), "sms2" (Core Values), Michel Lensen and Henry Meirick of the two "sms" teams (Best Coaching). The ROSEN Group also awarded two special prizes for exceptional solution approaches. These went to "OBS Twist" (Can Do) and "SR2B" (Creativity).
The day before, the FIRST® LEGO® League Explore for the younger children took place at the bilingual elementary school ROBIGS under the motto of the same name. Here, the children presented a research poster and a LEGO® model in the form of an exhibition. The performance of each team was honored with a certificate. The regional competition in Lingen (Ems) is organized together with HANDS on TECHNOLOGY e.V., the official organizer of the FIRST® LEGO® League in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Pictures: Schöning Fotodesign, ROSEN Gruppe