the St. Clements Wild Goats, a local FIRST LEGO League robotics team, emerged atop the standings of a 24-team competition December 1 in Waterloo.
Including all four divisions (robot game, robot judging, project, and core values), the Wild Goats finished second overall in the league event. Because of its success, the team will be advancing to the Ontario West Provincial Championships in February.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League robotics matches put to the test the engineering skills of participants in Grades 4 to 8. The competition requires an entirely autonomous robot to complete as many tasks as possible within a two-and-a-half minute timeframe. The robot must be constructed entirely by Lego Mindstorm technology. The Wild Goats managed to finish six challenges in a row, earning them the most points.
“The kids were so ecstatic,” said team coach Jason Jantzi of the results. “The excitement through the gym and the whole arena was pretty wild. People were cheering, and announcers were doing a play-by-play for the robots, and they have cameras of the robot projected up on the screen. There were fans in the bleachers cheering. It was pretty amazing.”
Each team has three tries to rack up as many points as possible – the highest score in those three tries is a team’s final score overall. On their third and final try, the St. Clements Wild Goats earned 150 points, the most out of the 24 teams taking part. The second place winner, the Stemotics Apollo 55, came in a close second at 148 points, while third place went to an Elmira team, the Space Chickens.
The Space Chickens also fared well, receiving the Robot Design award that recognizes a team that uses a mechanically sound, innovative robot capable of performing the challenge missions consistently and autonomously. Another local group, the St. Jacobs Super Stingers,came in 11th in the robot game competition.
The results were particularly rewarding to the St. Clements group, which formed a LEGO League team just a few months ago. The group worked hard consistently, ramping up their practice schedule as the official game day neared. Although they are newcomers, their hard work really paid off.
“We were newbies,” said Jantzi. “But the kids really took to it, and were very interested – they learned a lot. I think they had a pretty unique design. We typically [practice] once a week, however before this competition it was more like a couple of nights a week.”
The judges clearly took notice, as the Wild Goats also received the Rising Star award that recognizes a team that they expect great things from in the future. In addition, they won second for the Champions award, which takes all divisions of the competition into account.
“We’ve been friends for seven years, and we’ve always called ourselves the goats, so we decided to go with the Wild Goats,” said Brooklyn Alpaugh, a member of the team. “And we always climb higher.”
The team is made up of eight bright young kids, including several sets of siblings, who primarily met through school.
“We wanted to thank the D&D Automation for all the help – like sponsorship, the computers, and the boards,” added Connor Jantzi. “They also helped to provide mentors to our team.”
The LEGO League also nurtures teambuilding core values and looks at how these values can be applied to everyday life, including discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, and teamwork.
The FIRST LEGO League Ontario West Provincial Championship will take place on February 9 at the University of Waterloo. For more information visit www.firstlegoleague.org.