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TDSB Teams Take Flight at Robotics Challenge

Thursday, April 20, 2017
Categories: Great Things, Happenings @ TDSB, School Web Stories

FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams from six TDSB schools were among the sixty top-ranked Ontario teams who competed in the Ontario District Championship at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga April 13 to 15. Impressive performances by the teams from Sir Wilfrid Laurier CI, Western Technical-Commercial School, and Woburn CI earned each a spot to compete at the World Championship in St. Louis at the end of April. Joining these teams is grade 11 Northview Heights SS student Mithilesh, one of five students from across the province selected as a FIRST Dean’s List Finalist at the event. This prestigious nomination celebrates “outstanding student leaders who have helped to increase awareness of FIRST while achieving personal technical expertise and accomplishment.” 

At this exciting, multi-day event, teams were treated to welcoming remarks from the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Federal Minister of Science. Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Associate Director Chris Usih was also on hand to accept an award honouring the Toronto Board as founding educational partner of FIRST Robotics Canada.

Leading up to the District Championship, teams from twenty TDSB schools were among the 145 teams from across Ontario who spent six weeks designing, building and programming their robots to perform tasks on a themed playing field. In this year’s game, inspired by an era in which technology relied on steam power, robots could score  points by collecting “fuel” to power an “airship,” installing gears to engage the ship’s rotors and climbing aboard the airship prior to “liftoff” during 2.5 minute matches.

Following the six-week “build season,” each team competed in two of the nine district events that took place in March and April to showcase the robots they designed and built. One of these events was hosted at the TDSB’s very own Victoria Park Collegiate Institute and rivalled the other events hosted by major post-secondary institutions in Oshawa, Toronto, Barrie, Windsor, London, North Bay and Hamilton. At each event, teams earned qualifying points and many were recognized with awards for their efforts in the following categories:

  • Industrial Design (Woburn)
  • Excellence in Engineering (Woburn)
  • Team Spirit (Westview and Sir Wilfred Laurier)
  • Creativity (Western Tech and Runnymede)
  • Quality (Western Tech)
  • Innovation in Control (Runnymede)
  • Engineering Inspiration (Victoria Park and North Albion)
  • Judges (David & Mary Thomson and Northview Heights)
  • Entrepreneurship (Bloor)
  • Rookie All Star (Northview Heights)
According to the Vision for Learning in TDSB, “our students need to be deep thinkers, problem solvers, creators, collaborators, leaders, global citizens, entrepreneurs, and communicators.” FIRST Robotics Administrator for the TDSB Annika Pint agrees with this important principle and said that students involved in robotics teams develop these global competencies by working collaboratively in teams, learning from and contributing to the learning of others, solving complex, real-world problems and communicating in different contexts with diverse audiences. “They also learn how to bounce back from setbacks, refine ideas, and develop confidence in their own abilities, which is so critical for success at school but also after they leave school and explore various post-secondary opportunities,” she added. “We’re proud of our students and also of all of the teachers and administrators at TDSB schools whose support and dedication make these opportunities for students possible.”  

Postscript, May 5: TDSB was well represented at the FRC World Championship in St. Louis, and its teams enjoyed significant success. Team 856 "Warp 7" from Western Tech finished as Archimedes division finalists. Team 188 "Blizzard" from Woburn CI were Archimedes division quarter-finalists. Team 5036 "Robo Devils" from Sir Wilfrid Laurier CI were Darwin division semi-finalists.

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