2nd Annual Peace Country Robotics Tournament
On Friday, April 15, 2016 Peace River School Division (PRSD) hosted The 2nd Annual Peace Country Robotics Tournament and once again the event was a huge success. Students from PRSD joined students from Northland School Division, Conseil scolaire du Nord-Ouest, Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council and Little Red River Cree Nation to race and wrestle robots at the Back Lakes Recreation Centre in Red Earth Creek.
PRSD students and teachers from E.E. Oliver, Kennedy Elementary and Grimshaw Jr/Sr High made the trip and joined Red Earth Creek School to compete in three age categories: Kindergarten-Grade 2, Grades 3-6, and Grades 7-12. The tournament involves three events, two of which are timed Line Follower races that require the robots to stay in line with both an oval and ellipse track and the third event is the Sumo Challenge in which the robots must first detect each other and then one must push the other out of the ring to win.
“Students build the robots using a combination of light, touch and ultrasonic sensors which are then adjusted and refined to work together” explains PRSD’s Divisional Learning Technology Coach Sherrie Buchner, “so with the right programming the robots will be aware of the location of the edge of the race track and will be able to follow it, and in the Sumo Challenge they’re able to detect their robot opponent and will work to stay inside the ring while pushing the other out.”
Students build and program the robots themselves in Robotics classes, as an after-school activity, or during electives. PRSD offers Robotics as one of a variety of flexible learning time options in several schools. In these classes students work together to build robots from LEGO WeDo or LEGO Mindstorms kits and then program them to operate completely autonomously. This involves calibrating sensors, building and design, coding, a little creativity, and a lot of trial and error. “The students are constantly refining their programs and designs, there is always room for improvement and it often requires several attempts to achieve the desired outcome” says Buchner.
PRSD Trustees are also pleased with the positive results of the robotics option. “There are so many learning opportunities involved in the process, from working as a team and collaborating creatively, to problem solving and critical thinking. It’s as great an experience in engineering and programming as it is in team building” says Board Chair Darren Kuester.
Grimshaw Jr/Sr High and E.E. Oliver schools were the winners of their respective age categories in the Sumo Competition; Kennedy Elementary was second in their category and Red Earth Creek School’s senior team placed 3rd in theirs. All teams placed in both Line Follower race events as well.
Thank you to Paul Neethling and Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council for organizing the tournament, and to the judges, volunteers, parents and coaches who made this great event possible. Congratulations to all the robotics teams that worked together to build and program their robots and then put them to the test!