While many spent the long weekend soaking up the sun, a team of high school students were hard at work at Vancouver Island Tech Park taking part in a virtual robotics competition against other teams from B.C. and Washington with their robot, Beyonce.
On April 3 the FIX IT Robotics team – a team of students from across Greater Victoria – began running matches with the robot they’ve been working on since September.
Together with their alliance partners who conferenced in virtually, the teens strategized, executed and uploaded their completed matches.
Today, the @FIXIT3491 Robotics team - made up of high school students from across #yyj - took part in the FIRST Tech Challenge virtually with their robot, Beyoncé, from the Vancouver Island Tech Park. Matches included various ring tosses — hence the robot’s name. @saanichnews pic.twitter.com/HecFt8T4NH— Devon Bidal (@devonscarlett) April 3, 2021
Ines Khouider, a Grade 12 student at St. Margaret’s school, has been a programmer on the FIX IT team for four years. She became interested in robots and engineering in middle school and “looked up to the older robotics kids” on the FIX IT team who ran workshops for younger students like herself. After learning that her high school didn’t have a robotics team, she joined the community team which, before the pandemic, met in the evenings at the Victoria Makerspace at the tech park.
The Saturday competition, the local FIRST Tech Challenge, was one in a series the team will take part in before the season champions are announced on May 15.
This year’s game, called Ultimate Goal, was sponsored by the Star Wars Foundation Force for Change and required a robot that can shoot rings at a “tower goal,” make “power shots” and then score “wobble goals,” explained Ishaan Kareer, a Grade 11 student from Central Saanich who attends Stelly’s Secondary. The ring tossing led to the team’s bot being named after Beyonce.
The team took part in 12, three-round matches on Saturday – each requiring the robot to complete tasks autonomously and via remote control, Kareer said.
Normally, matches take place in person, but with COVID-19, the game was adapted to be played remotely, explained team coach Christine Nicholls.
Despite the challenges, the team worked online whenever possible and managed to “successfully design, build and program a competition robot” – skills she said will translate well into careers in science and technology.
Khouider, one of the programmers who taught Beyonce to make ring tosses and move game pieces on its own, has been accepted to several Canadian universities for software engineering and attributes this to her experience on the team. FIX IT also runs workshops for other students interested in robotics and she is grateful for the chance to help get others interested in engineering.
Anyone interested in learning about robotics is invited to reach out to the team at fixit3491.com.