15 years zdi: 2008 | zdi robot team at the world finals of the First Lego League

The robot team from the Ketteler Realschule in Hopsten raises the yellow Lego trophy in the air – After 14 months of hard work, they hold the First Lego League's Quality Design Award in the Murphy Ballroom at the Georgia World Conference Center in Atlanta in the hands. Reiner Scholz, team member of the "Allrounders?!", fetched the shoe box full of photos, souvenirs and the trophy from the attic for us.

"I've always had a great interest in technology," he recalls. "So when I was a child, my parents gave me Lego technology sets, which I used to spend a lot of my free time with." When he heard in 2007 that there was a robotics company at his school, he and his cousin immediately registered.

In the same year, Ulrich Berk, coach of the all-rounder?! team, had just taken over the management of the robot working group at the Ketteler secondary school in Hopsten. Together with the five girls and three boys, he immediately started preparing for their first competition: the zdi robot competition, which took place for the second time in 2007. To do this, the team spent almost all of their free time building, programming and testing “Bruno”, as they called their robot. “I still remember well how we spent hours working on our robot after school and often at the weekend. Our teacher, Mr. Berk, was always very committed and even trusted us to the extent that we had our own key to the school basement," says Scholz.

The team "Allrounders?!" the Ketteler Realschule Hopsten with coaches Ulrich and Hannelore Berk.
The "Allrounders?!" team from Ketteler Realschule Hopsten with coaches Ulrich and Hannelore Berk.

The journey of the all-rounders?!: Germany, Norway and the USA

In the zdi robot competition Then a few months later they got their first big win, which qualified them to take part in the Germany finals of the First Lego League in Leipzig. This is where the triumph of the Hopstener team began, which took them through the Central European finals in Norway to the World Championships in the USA. zdi was always there as a sponsor at the side of the team that represents NRW to the world.

Reiner Scholz makes final changes to the presentation structure for the robot's run.
Reiner Scholz makes final changes to the presentation structure.

After qualifying, the “all-rounders?!” prepared their presentation on the topic of renewable energy. In particular, they wanted to show how energy is generated by biogas plants. In April 2008 the time had come: The team was on the plane to Atlanta. In the three-day competition, 81 teams from 24 countries competed against each other in the disciplines of teamwork, presentation and robot performance. As is so often the case with competitions, not everything went smoothly at the World Cup: "Unfortunately, the jurors in Atlanta did not know any biogas plants like we have in Germany and therefore could not really understand our presentation," says Reiner Scholz. However, neither this communication error nor the uneven competition table, which made it difficult for robot Bruno to return the oil drums safely to the base, changed the result. Bruno fetches for the all-rounders?! the highest score of 400 and thus not the overall victory, but first place for their robot design, the "Quality Design Award".

The "all-rounders?!" with her Lego trophy
The “all-rounders?!” with their Lego trophy.

Twelve years later, Mr. Scholz still remembered the euphoria about the victory: “I can still vividly remember the moment when we stood on the podium and were presented with the trophy and our medals. Many of us were so far away from home for the first time and very nervous. That we did so well despite the excitement was a really nice moment for the eight of us.”

Although he left Roboter AG shortly after the victory in Atlanta to concentrate on school, Reiner Scholz remained true to his enthusiasm for the STEM field. After graduating from secondary school, he trained as an electrician for energy and building technology. Today he is 28 and works in a company that manufactures packaging machines. He is certain: "Without the Roboter AG and the zdi robot competition, I probably would never have dealt with MINT in a practical way so early on."

Current robotics and programming courses can be found on the STEM community platform.

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