Last Saturday, February 8th, saw three robotics teams from École Notre-Dame-du-Sault travel to Elk Rapids, Michigan to compete in a VEX Robotics Tournament hosted by Elk Rapids Cherryland Middle School.
The three teams, NDS Alpha (grades 6 to 8), NDS Beta (grades 5-6) and NDS Gamma (grade 4 students), all had strong showings, taking home 4 of the 12 awards in the 30 team event.
These teams have designed, built and programmed robots over the past 6 months to compete in the VEX IQ Challenge Squared Away. Teams were tasked to build a robot that could lift and score hollow 7″ cubes and 3″ balls. Teams competed on a 4’x8′ field, along with an alliance team where they work together to score as many points as they can within the 60 second time limit. There were also individual driver skills and programming (fully-autonomous) skills challenges, as well as several judged awards.
In the elementary division (12 years and younger), NDS Beta efforts earned them the prestigious Excellence Award, the premier award of the event. High scores in the round robin, skills challenges and judged awards combined to gain this recognition. NDS Beta is also currently ranked ninth in Canada for Elementary Robot Skills.
NDS Alpha had top score in driving skills and an excellent programming skills score which combined to earn them the Robot Skills Champion Award. This currently puts them as the eleventh best team in Canada in the Middle School (under 15 years old) Robot Skills rankings. They also had a great showing in the tournament, finishing as the second place alliance and taking the award.
The third team, NDS Gamma, did not see the same success in the tournament and skills challenges, but are currently ranked 27th in Canada for Elementary Robot Skills. The professionals that spent the day observing teams, inspecting robots and asking participants questions also presented Gamma with the Judge’s Award. This is given to a team that the judges feel deserves special recognition for their efforts outside the scope of the other awards.
The NDS Robotics program at Notre-Dame-du-Sault has been running for nine years and has mentored over 60 students since 2011. The program teaches students the skills required to build, program, and test robots to complete specific predefined tasks. Other tangible skills gained by the students include critical thinking, problem solving, and working as a team.
The teams have been practicing four hours a week since September and have continued to improve their designs by building prototypes, testing, and re-building. The NDS Alpha team has been contributing to the learning of their younger peers by sharing their knowledge and coaching the Beta and Gamma teams.
With their strong performances at the competition, the Alpha and Beta teams also received invitations to the 2020 CREATE U.S. Open Robotics Championship in Iowa which takes place from March 30th to April 1st. The teams are looking for community support to raise $10,000 to attend the event, and have started a GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/f/nds-robotics-2020). Corporate sponsors can also be arranged by contacting the team coach, David Spacek, at [email protected]
The Notre-Dame-du-Sault Robotics teams’ participation is supported by the ADSB VEX Robotics program, which supports publicly funded school-based teams from across Algoma. If you are interested in finding out more about VEX Robotics in the region, including how your child can get involved, contact Mark Carlucci, the program coordinator, at [email protected]