While we were down in Yokohama last weekend for the Robot Sumo contest, we took the opportunity to drop in and watch the Japanese First Lego League “Ocean Odyssey” competition as well. In some ways it was very much like the FLL competitions overseas, but there were some differences.
From the short time we were able to devote to watching the FLL robot competition, the basic competition guidelines, field layout, and rules seemed to be the same as overseas events.
Certainly the t-shirts, banners, and other supporting material closely followed the worldwide FLL example. Most important, the energy, enthusiasum, and active parental support was very encouraging. The event was held in a large auditorium, and almost all of the seats were full, with the crowds changing as each team had their turn to compete.
So, what really struck us as different or unexpected?
First, the precision that the event organization followed. Although the total event lasted for most of the afternoon, every single event started and ended exactly on schedule - often right down to the fraction of a minute. The organizers had published detailed spreadsheets laying out all the timing and locations, and all of the competing teams went to great lengths to follow the schedules.
Second, peripheral yet important factors that made the event much more exciting and memorable. Things like having a DJ play background music that matched the different event stages, or the video projected on a large screen so that viewers could relax in their seats while watching without having to crowd around the playing field.
Third, the half-time cheerleaders.