This past Saturday, five robotics teams from Blind River Public School, Boreal French Immersion and Thessalon Public School travelled to Brampton to compete against 20 teams from Southern Ontario in the VEX IQ Challenge – Slapshot. After having qualified to move on from a competition at Sault College earlier in the month, the teams were looking to earn spots at the Ontario Provincial Championships.
Having learned much from their first event, the students spent the three-week interlude refining their robot designs, testing new features, and building new components. From the Blind River team, Jai Mistry noted, “We built a bunch of new mechanisms to shoot the pucks under the fence and improved the arm a little bit.”
When it came to the competition, the five teams from Algoma ran up against some strong competition, many teams having already taken top honors at one or more previous competitions. The Algoma teams finished towards the bottom of the rankings, but for the students it was about more than winning. “Doing what I love,” replied Emmett Deneau of the Thessalon team when asked about his favorite part of the event. He went on to say, “I love how creative people got with the robots, like how they fully automated them to do what they needed to do.”
Watching matches, it was apparent that most of the teams had studied the high scoring robots from around the world and reused many of the designs. In comparison, the Algoma teams had unique robot designs. Having made a innovative chain dropping mechanism to score bonus points, Boreal’s team of Jonah Hargin, Nevan Young and Quinton Fabbro were able to impress officials at the event and walked away with the Judge’s Award. On coming up with the chain mechanism, Jonah said, “Nevan was just finicking around with a chain, and when it arched down, we thought, ‘Hey, that could probably touch a point zone.’ So, we experimented with it to come up with the thing.”
It was a long season for the teams, all competitive robotics rookies, as Owen Snooks of Boreal put it, “Honestly, I think I was ready for a break.”
He did feel he learned a lot from watching the other teams and had some recommendations for teams getting ready for future competitions, “Don’t just add stuff to the hero bot, that’s a recipe for disaster.” He felt they should be “building something from scratch.”
If you or your child is interested in becoming involved with the local robotics program, speak with your school principal, or contact Mark Carlucci at [email protected].