Garrett Lego team wins state

First Lego League Team 3659 NeXT GEN wins the Maryland State First Lego League Championship held at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Front row, from the left, are Phil Malone, Sara Huelskamp, Emilia Germain, Serena Lewis, Connor Madigan, Quintin Utterback and Arlene Lantz. Back row, Ronni DiGioia, Sara Fredlock, Laura Huelskamp, Jett Miller, Kaiden Burns and Blake Smith.

ACCIDENT — Garrett County’s First Lego League Team 3659 NeXT GEN won the first-place Champion’s Award at the Maryland State First Lego League Championship at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The local iLego Team won the third-place Champion’s Award.

The 72 top Maryland FLL teams competed from across the state. NeXT GEN qualified for the state championship by winning the first-place Champion’s Award at the Mountain Maryland Qualifier tournament in December at Northern High School. The team was offered an invitation to compete with 71 other teams from around the world at the First Razorback Invitational in Arkansas in May.

Every year, First challenges teams to create an innovative solution. The theme for the 2017-2018 season, hydrodynamics, asks teams to explore problems with water. This year, NeXT GEN decided to solve the problem of elderly people not drinking enough water. The team’s solution is the Pick Me Up Coaster, a drink coaster that reminds the user to drink more water by using lights and sounds.

NeXT GEN presented its solution to staff and residents at Allegany Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Cumberland. The team began an experiment at the center to see how the coaster affects fluid intake in residents and will continue to collect data.

“We are excited to work with the team on this project,” said Debra Buckalew, nursing home administrator. “Our residents and staff could hardly believe they are middle school students. They were so knowledgeable and professional in their presentation. Dehydration can be such a big problem in the elderly. We think this coaster will be really beneficial for our residents.”

In addition to their project, teams build and program a robot to compete in missions on a board related to the theme. NeXT GEN’s robot placed seventh in the state competition. The third aspect of the competition is core values. Teams must demonstrate teamwork, gracious professionalism and good sportsmanship.

NeXT GEN team members are students from all three middle schools in Garrett County. The team has sold Easter eggs made by the United Methodist Emanuel Church and will sell McDonald’s discount cards along with baked goods from the Taste and See Bakery. Team members will hold a car wash and sell tokens from Shimmer and Shine.

NeXT GEN will seek local sponsorships and will sponsor Sugo birthday parties at GEARS in Accident. A spirit night is scheduled April 16 from 4 to 9 p.m. at Greene Turtle and a Greene Turtle mug night will be held April 26 from 4 to 8 p.m. The team will hold a spaghetti dinner at Oak Park Church of the Brethren on April 20 from 4 to 8 p.m. and a taco and baked potato bar May 11 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Pleasant Valley Community Center. For more information, follow Garrett County First Lego League Team 3659 on Facebook.

The iLego FLL Team will compete in the First World Championship in Detroit, Michigan. 

CUMBERLAND TIMES-NEWS, ctn@times-news.com

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