Caledonia students turn heads at provincial robotics competition

Terrace and Kitimat teams participated in the semifinal match

Caledonia Secondary members of Team 19767, The Frog Series in Surrey for the British Columbia FIRST Tech Challenge Championship on Feb. 26, 2022. (Submitted photo/Kelley Axelson)

Caledonia Secondary members of Team 19767, The Frog Series in Surrey for the British Columbia FIRST Tech Challenge Championship on Feb. 26, 2022. (Submitted photo/Kelley Axelson)

Students from Caledonia Secondary School in Terrace put in a strong showing at the provincial robotics championship in Surrey Feb. 26, falling in the semifinals in the third match of a best of three series.

It was the first time Terrace has fielded a robotics team in the competition, and team mentor Kelley Axelson said that the experience was rewarding for herself and the students.

“I was super happy for them, just so composed. They were so great in the actual competitions, and so just really impressed,” she said.

In total, there were 28 teams competing. Terrace, formally called Team 19767 “The Frog Series,” was only one of two schools representing northern B.C. along with Kitimat.

The journey started back in September, when Axelson and her students went to work designing and building a robot able to complete the tasks of the game, which included maneuvering around or over obstacles and picking up objects and placing them on an elevated platform.

“What happens is you’re set up in a match, and you have to work with another team, so your team for one match, [is] your opponent in another match, you don’t know who you’re you’re going to be paired with,” Axelson said.

“You have to get your your cargo into the three tiered hub, or into the one called the shared hub, you have to move [rubber] ducks off spinning carousels.”

A significant part of the competition was also dedicated to teams having to scout for strong teams to partner with for the final round of the competition

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Each team played several preliminary matches and were ranked based on how they performed. The Frog Series finished in the middle of the pack, which Axelson said was a great result for a rookie team.

Both Terrace and Kitimat showed enough promise to be selected by teams in the semifinals to join them. Axelson said the students were ‘ecstatic.’

“Just, you know, that relief when all of your hard work has paid off, all the work that these kids have done. And so just to see them there in that element was amazing.”

The robotics equipment and trip to Surrey would not have been possible without sponsors, and Axelson said that Rio Tinto and LNG Canada provided both Terrace and Kitimat teams with materials. German software company SUSE and private donations helped fund travel expenses.

“It was really an amazing thing to do and to be able to see, you know, for us to go down is, it’s not it’s not a cheap endeavour to take a trip and, and get a robot through security,” she said.