Sault Teams Head To World Championship!

– iSmak with their Robot Skills Championship banner

Brampton, ON – March 3, 2019 – On Saturday, 12 elementary teams from across Algoma travelled to Brampton to compete in a field of 66 teams at the Ontario VEX IQ Provincial Championship. Teams participated in a 2-on-0 teamwork tournament with random partners, a solo programming and driver skills challenge, both of which had their robots stack hubs and pull itself off the ground in a series of 1-minute rounds. Teams also vied for several judged awards the focused on the work put into building the robots.

iSmak with their Excellence Awards

In attendance were school based teams from Blind River PS, FH Clergue (2), Norte Dame du Sault (2), Queen Elizabeth, St Basil, Superior Heights, Thessalon PS (2) and White Pines, along with iSmak, an independent team.

The skills challenge saw some morning excitement as iSmak, who entered the tournament 1st in the world elementary (participants up to grade 6) skill rankings, beat their previous record of 48 with a combined programming and driver score of 51. This was strong enough to crown them Robot Skills Champion at the tournament, beating both elementary and middle school (up to grade 8) teams.

The round robin portion of the tournament saw iSmak moving in and out of the top position, as well as NDS Alpha (Notre-Dame du Sault) regularly appearing in the top 10 and the Clergue Voyageurs maintaining a spot in the top half of the field. The end of the round robin saw iSmak finish in 3rd, NDS Alpha finish in 10th and the Clergue Voyageurs in 28th place putting them just out reach of the finals round cutoff.

Moving into the playoffs, iSmak and NDS Alpha,

White Pines finishes up their match with a robot pull-up

where paired with similarly ranked teams and competed in one more match, with the highest scoring alliance winning. NDS Alpha had a strong performance but lost points when their partner knocked fumbled some of the stacked hubs, leading them to miss the high score. The iSmak alliance, competing in second last match, had an outstanding performance, posting the high score. However, the last finals match saw a pair of southern Ontario teams tie iSmak’s alliance score. This led to one more round for the two alliances. After two more exciting matches, iSmak’s alliance fell short by two points, earning them the Teamwork 2nd Place Award and an invitation to the VEX World Championships in Kentucky this April.

NDS Alpha after receiving the STEM Research Project Award

The day ended with the judging awards. Earning an invitation to the World Championships was NDS Alpha as their STEM Research Project Video on “Phosphates in the Great Lakes Causing Algae Blooms” was considered the top submission. This was a 4-minute video presentation about a use of mathematics in life. iSmak found themselves winning their second World Championship invitation as they were presented with the Elementary School Excellence Award, the highest elementary award in the province.

Thessalon and White Pines work together to fix a robot

When asked about what it takes to achieve such high ranks, Max Shillingford of iSmak said, “definitely a lot of commitment and you have practice basically every day.” He went to share, “Robotics is a great opportunity to learn about so many things. Robotics is a competition of engineering and skill. Also, another cool part of robotics is that there is a role for everybody, like building, driving, designing or programming.”

All of our local teams showed what they had learned this season, with improved robotics, programs and performances since the local qualifying event back in January, and being competitive against some very strong teams.

Clergue Voyages and Thessalon Thunder eagerly await their score after a match

This ADSB VEX Robotics season has been graciously supported by Tenaris AlgomaTubes, the Algoma District School Board, the Professional Engineers Ontario – Algoma Chapter, the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists – Algoma Chapter, the Sault Ste Marie Airport Development Corporation and Sylvan Automation. As well, volunteers from Sault College, ADSB, and professionals from the local engineering and technology communities have provided countless hours of their time to ensure this amazing event can happen.

If you or your child is interested in becoming involved with the local VEX Robotics program, speak with your school principal or contact Mark Carlucci at [email protected].