Some of the brightest science and technology students from across southwestern Ontario spent Tuesday afternoon in Woodstock to see if the robots they built held up.
That was the crux of the 15th Oxford Youth Robotics Challenge, an annual competition that has returned to Reeves Community Campus after a two-year hiatus imposed by the coronavirus.
Twenty teams representing 15 high schools in the district started setting up their robots in the early afternoon before showing the judges what their creation could do.
“It’s amazing to be able to bring back these invaluable learning opportunities,” said Brad Hammond, Woodstock’s economic development officer and competition co-chair. “There is such a demand for skilled trades – especially locally. Through these types of competitions, students have the opportunity to problem-solve, experiment and collaborate with their peers while being exposed to career paths they might not have considered otherwise.
“The feedback we are getting from the participants is fantastic. The students are very excited about the challenge of working through the parameters of the program to come up with creative solutions. It is also really rewarding to see how many former participants come back as mentors. It is clear that the program is having a lasting impact on these young minds “.
Team members began their projects in September, building and programming a robot to complete a given real-life scenario. Each team received a Lego Spike Prime set of building blocks, sensors, actuators, and a programmable hub needed to build the robots.
Limited to only the materials in this set, teams were then challenged to assemble and program robots that were able to complete the assigned task.
“The Oxford Invitational Youth Robotics Challenge allows students to engage in real-life, task-oriented situations that allow collaboration and teamwork to flourish. Students are encouraged to embrace differences, nurturing lifelong friendships,” said Rob Kowalski, teacher of technology at Sir Frederick Banting High School in London. that will help them in their future endeavours.”
After the extended challenge break, the students were excited to get back in the competition and show off their technical expertise.
“I hope the Oxford Robotics Challenge for Young People will help me discover how robots can be used to solve real-world problems and open doors to STEM opportunities in the future,” said Year 12 student Tanya Poloshina.
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