This week has been very productive–we’ve worked every day after school and into the evening preparing for the Greater Toronto Regional next weekend.
Ian Elliot from The Whig-Standard came to ask us some questions and write up an article about our team.
All Systems Go For KC Entry
The World Cup in South Africa may be a few months away, but one high school in Kingston is already playing soccer at a world level, and with a player that will never writhe on the field clutching a knee in hopes of drawing a penalty.
A team at Kingston Collegiate has designed a soccer-playing robot as part of a worldwide science and engineering competition, and last week made it to the semifinals of a major regional competition in Pittsburgh, PA.
The team was eliminated on a technicality in the second-last round after advancing much further in the competition than it thought it would. Its members are now preparing to enter their robot — named Arbalest, after the powerful medieval crossbow — to compete next week at another regional event in Toronto.
“We were quite pleased by how we did in Pittsburgh,” said Kevin Wood, the KC computer science teacher who is overseeing the team of more than 50 students who created the robot from a box of parts they received two months ago.
“We actually weren’t optimistic going into the competition because we had been having so many little problems, but the kids really pulled things together at the competition.”
The team is competing in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics challenge, in which high schoolers build a functioning robot from cutting-edge parts and put it in competition with other robots.
The contest is sponsored by NASA, among others, and has been endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The custom-built machines play soccer on a complicated pitch with several humps, tunnels and overhead bars and accumulate points for scoring goals and hanging from the bars.
No robot can do everything, so teams are forced to build specialist robots, and form alliances with other teams to put a balanced team on the field, typically with robots that take offensive, defensive and midfielder roles.
“It’s not so much about the technology as it is about the teamwork,” explained R.J. Tripple, one of the team members.
“The judges want to know how you worked together to make the robot work as much as they want to know about the robot.”
Tripple and Kaley Bibic have the job of explaining the team’s ideas and challenges to the judges at competitions and she echoed the idea that the contest is more about people than machines, no matter how high-tech.
“The robot is just a vehicle,” she said.
“This competition is about working together.”
The team has spent thousands of hours putting together its main robot and an identical backup one with help from sponsors and coaches, including Queen’s University engineering students and Kingston’s Transformix Engineering.
Organizers call the event March Madness for robots, and just like in college basketball, the winners will be crowned at the end of the competition.