A team of 11 students at a Victoria high school are just weeks away from competing in the biggest competition of their lives.
For the past five years, the Spectrum Community School Thunderbots have been a part of FIRST Robotics, an international organization dedicated to fostering STEM education through building robots and competing with them in robotics competitions.
“In January, First Robotics announces a game to the world and they send us what they call a kit of parts,” says Thunderbots teacher Bob Lilyholm.
“We then as a team design a robot that can compete in that game.”
This year’s Pacific regional event was held at the Save On Foods Memorial Centre, with the Thunderbots entering their robot Herbie to try and tackle an adapted version of basketball as well as a climbing challenge.
“The robot, it picks up balls and throws them into these giant basketball hoops and then at the end of the competition the robot has to climb these sets of ascending rungs,” says Thunderbots team member Everett Capeau.
Unfortunately, there were some technical gremlins, but the team adapted by switching to a defence role and joining up with the highest seeded team in the tournament.
The end result? The Thunderbots are off to the FIRST Championship in Houston, Texas.
“That moment, right when they showed the final score showing the amount of cargo we put in, I was jumping up and down,” says Thunderbots team member Isaac Preyser.
“It was quite exciting once we saw that we one and I was kind of shocked and didn’t expect to be going to Houston at all,” adds fellow team member Sean Chambers.
Now the challenge is fundraising the $40,000 it will take to make the trip, which will be a major opportunity for all involved.
it’s the best of the best all coming in … I’m going to learn so much from all these other people teaching me their skills,” says Preyser.
The 2022 FIRST Championship runs from April 21-23. To donate to the Thunderbots, visit their GoFundMe page or their website.