It involves science, math, computer programming, teamwork and game strategy, but most appealing of all, it involves robots.
Fix It is a competitive robotics team based out of Colwood that is looking for new members as they enter into the 2012/13 season. Team members design, build and compete with robots made to complete specific tasks.
Throughout the competition season the team travels to places such as Las Vegas and Seattle to compete with other robotics teams from all over North America. All winnings from competitions come in the form of scholarships.
Christine Nicholls coaches the team, which currently consists of her two children, Katherine and Duncan Silversides, grades 12 and 9, respectively, and Esquimalt high school student Alex Imhels.
“Who doesn’t like to building and designing robots?” Duncan said. “We also get to travel to a lot of new places and it’s always fun seeing what all the other teams have done to solve the same challenges as you.”
During competition the robots have to complete certain tasks in order to get points. What task the robot must be able to perform changes every year and part of the challenge is designing and building a robot specific to each year’s new task.
This year the competition is based around a tic-tac-toe style game where the robot must be able to pick up plastic rings and hang them on a PVC piping playing board in the middle of the ring.
A team is also judged on robot design and strategy plans. So far the team has come up with a basic design for the robot and is working on a device to have it be able to pick up and manipulate the rings.
A spirit of sportsmanship and co-operation is a staple of the competitions. In tournaments teams are required to ally with other random teams for a part of the contest, and therefore have to learn to work with other teams, capitalizing on strengths and helping each other to improve weaknesses.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie because you need to be able to work with your partner effectively to score a point but at the same time compete against those same partners later on,” Nicholls said.
Last year the Fix It team was the only robotics team in B.C. Two years ago there were four teams in B.C. and the event was expanding, but teacher’s job action and other factors reduced the number of teams. This year St. Margaret’s school in Saanich is also starting a team, something the Fix It team is helping organize.
Ideally a team has six to eight members performing a variety of tasks. Some control the robots, some are there for technical support, while others are needed to co-ordinate with other teams for allied matches.
“It’s not just engineering skills that are needed, it’s also the social skills,” Nicholls said.
Specific skills are helpful for anyone interested in joining the team, but they’re not essential. Anyone willing to learn is welcome to attend a couple of meetings in Colwood and decide if it’s a good fit.
Any high school-aged students interested can contact the Fix It team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.lego-stormers.com for more information. The first event is at the beginning of December in Seattle. Sponsorships help cover costs for travel, but some costs are involved.