C.C. McLean robotics team advances to the provincials

Qualifying for the provincials! This Charles C. McLean Public School Robotics team qualified for the provincials in the First Lego League for Kids Lego Mind Storms-Into Orbit competition after their efforts at a recent competition in Sudbury. Team members include, back row, from left, Jack Young, Ezra Diebolt, Hailey Wadge (wearing the team’s space helmet), front, Amara Wilson-Zegil, Tegan Oliver and Athena Gravelle.

GORE BAY—For a team full of ‘rookies,’ the Charles C. McLean Robotics team put forth a more than acceptable effort at a “First Lego League for Kids—Lego Mind Storms-Into Orbit” competition in Sudbury recently; in fact, the team has qualified for the provincials.

“I thought the kids had done really well and would possibly get recognition for one of the components they had been working on,” said Ray Scott, Grade 4/5 teacher at C.C. McLean. “Being a rookie team I thought we would be doing well to show up for the completion, but to my shock we ended up advancing to the provincial competition to be held at the University of Waterloo on February 9.”

 The C.C. McLean team includes six students in Grades 4 and 6, including Athena Gravelle, Jack Young, Amara Wilson-Zegil, Hailey Wadge, Ezra Diebolt and Tegan Oliver. 

Mr. Scott explained, “we were fortunate to have the necessary resources become available to the school to form a robotics team.” He pointed out  First Lego League for kids and Lego Mind Storms is an international organization where students build robots that perform specific tasks.
He pointed out many teams took part in the competition which took place at Science North in Sudbury on December 1. “The students participated there, carried out robot missions and as is required in the competition presented a research project on long term space travel. They also had to build a space helmet that deals with tears if one were taking part in a space walk.”
“The team did their research and carried out the missions,” said Mr. Scott. He said judges also take into account a team’s non-robot core values such as the way a team completes a challenge as a team to do something that is difficult and they have never done before. Judges looked at how they worked together, how much they co-operate as a team and how they interact. The last component of the competition is for the team to stand in front of a competition judge and talk about their robot, how it runs, things they had to rethink and run through during the missions.

“The team did quite well, but I was still really surprised when we were told we had qualified for the provincials,” said Mr. Scott.  

“The judges at the competition were all really nice, super friendly and supportive,” he continued. “It was very evident that all the judges are very skilled in working with young people. It was a really good culture for the students to develop their engineering skills and learn that it’s fun to build and work with robots.”

“The competition was divided into different age groups; our team was in the Grade 4 to 8 category, so our team was one of the younger teams in the competition,” said Mr. Scott. He said there was a process to selecting the members of the team, with students filling out applications. “As a coach it didn’t matter how much prior experience they had with robots. We focused on how they resolved problems with others, handling adversity and their people skills.”

The students went through the missions they can take their robot on last Thursday. The robot, who is called Timmy, Timmy Bob or Timmy Bob the Robot depending on which student you talk to, went through such paces as: the crater cross, skid velocity, space walk emergency and observatory, with each simulating a mission in space.

“The kids are pretty excited about qualifying for the provincials,” added Mr. Scott.