M’CHIGEENG – While they may not have done as well as they had hoped with their robot in their first competition of the season, the Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) Manitoulin Metal #6865 robotics team still had a very successful weekend, competing well and winning a major award.
Manitoulin Metal #6865 took part in the FIRST Robotics competition, a district event held at Georgian College in Barrie, where the team won the hugely prestigious Judges’ Award for environmental stewardship, innovation, vision, safety and leadership.
“We won the Judges’ Award for our environmental projects at the school,” said Lindsay Sheppard, who along with Jocelyn Kuntsi are the team captains for Manitoulin Metal. “We were recognized as being an outstanding role model for other teams. We both kind of presented our team well to the judges when they came around to the pit area during the competition.”
Jocelyn explained the Judges’ Award “was presented to our team for our environmental initiatives, such as the environmental battery drive we held last October and our e-waste drive. The judges were really impressed with all of this; we had at least 20 judges come up to us and ask us about these projects. I had sent letters to all of them indicating all the projects we are involved to make our school greener.”
Lead mentor for the team Al Davy told the Recorder, “we didn’t do as well as we had hoped in the actual (robotics) competition. Unfortunately, our team did not have enough time to drive our robot prior to the competition and we wanted it to do more than it was designed to. But we’ve already made the adjustments there and to the climbing device for our next competition (being held later this March).”
“There were 58 qualifying matches in the competition (this past weekend),” said Lindsay. “On Friday when we showed up all the teams were trying to unload their robots and tools. It was pretty rushed. There was only so much time allowed to set up our robot in the field and work on our program. We didn’t know how far we could drive our robot.”
“With that many teams, everyone was trying to help each other out,” said Jocelyn. “And for example, programmers on other teams helped us with our code, which was cool.”
“Everyone gets along so well at the competition; there were a lot of students that broke out of their shell and not be so shy,” said Lindsay.
“The communication skills that you develop as a team, with the judges, and the other teams, it is great to see in this type of event,” said Jocelyn.
Lindsay noted that overall, the Manitoulin Metal #6865 team did really well on its coding for the robot. “Zack (Dallaire) did exceptionally well; we only had an hour between matches and he would figure out and fix any problems that came up.”
The MSS team placed low in the matches in rankings because of the difficulties they had with their robot. “But we will have it in place and working for the next competition taking place on March 27,” said Jocelyn.
“We have everything down and parts done. And the coding is being done by Zach,” said Lindsay. She pointed out as well, “for a lot of the members of our team this was the first match they have ever taken part in. We have only had the robotics program at the school for the past three years and only three people on our team have competed before; the rest of the team are in Grade 9 and have never competed before. So this past weekend was a great learning experience for many members of our team, and we will be more prepared to push through in the next competition.”