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Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto

First time the charm as St. Clements students take silver in Lego Robotics competition at Skills event
St. Clement Catholic School students Kyla Hartung, Paige Lipszynski, Nate Brideau and Jack Wolf earned a silver medal in Lego Robotics at the Waterloo Region Technological Skills Competition.[Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
St. Clement Catholic School students Kyla Hartung, Paige Lipszynski, Nate Brideau and Jack Wolf earned a silver medal in Lego Robotics at the Waterloo Region Technological Skills Competition. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
A silver medal for their first time at the regional Lego Robotics competition isn’t too shabby.

The St. Clement Catholic School’s Grade 7/8 Lego Robotics team competed at the Waterloo Region Technological Skills Competition at the end of February, coming away with second place.

Paige Lipszynski, Kyla Hartung, Nate Brideau, and Jack Wolf make up the team.

They didn’t expect to place in the top three, having never competed before.

“We didn’t think we’d do that great because we messed up on two of the challenges, just a little bit. We didn’t get a perfect score on all of them, so we thought that we wouldn’t do too well. When the third place team was called we thought that we were out, but then when we came second we were really joyful,” Paige said.

Each team had to build a robot and then program it to go through the twists and turns of a maze. They had to pull a sled and there was also a hockey challenge where they had to get a hockey puck on three different circles.

The two parts where they lost points were with the sled and getting the hockey puck on one of the circles.

“You had to pull this hockey puck around these things and in the circles and we missed one,” Jack explained.

When they turned the sled at the end of the maze it touched the wall, which meant they couldn’t get perfect marks.

They had to learn as they went and adjust to changing circumstances.

“If you messed up you had to find out what went wrong,” Paige said. “When they swept the track it would be a different power speed that you’d be going at, you’d be going at different angles, so every time they changed it just a little but your robot would have to be reprogrammed. And then once you got judged once, you couldn’t get judged again. If you’re practicing and it was perfect and then you were a little bit off when you were setting it up it kind of got messed up then.”

As for what the biggest challenge was, they had a couple different answers.

“The right turns and the angles,” Kyla said.

“Probably programming it to get it right every time,” Nate said.

They got together every first recess for two weeks to practice, Nate added.

“The one day, Paige and I, the whole morning, we went through everything again. It was the day just before the juniors’ turn, so two days before ours. And we figured out the stuff we were having trouble with,” Kyla said.

Kyla says one of their goals was to do better than another team that they knew, but in the end their rivals ended up beating the St. Clement team.

“It was kind of overwhelming because there were so many people there and some of the schools had multiple teams and we just had two. Our team and another team. Some had three in each group,” Kyla said.

They can all agree it was a fun day, and a good excuse to miss a day of school.

“We just got to all hang out and test our skills to the max,” Paige said.

Paige and Kyla plan to continue Lego Robotics next year in Grade 8, while Nate and Jack are considering doing it at the secondary school level when they head to high school in the fall.

“I liked showing how even a small school, most of the schools have 500 kids and we only have 215, showing that a small school can win second,” Kyla said.

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