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Robotics rookies rock Lego challenge

by Brad Aubin
Tribune

In its very first year of existence and first ever competition, the West Nipissing Robotics (WNR) team earned an impressive 5th place finish out of 24 teams in last Saturday’s “First Lego League Challenge”, held by First Robotics Canada in partnership with Lego. The all-day event was held at Chippewa high school, and teams from all over Northern Ontario were judged on three elements: a mission project related to the year’s theme of “hydrodynamics”; core values of teamwork, respect and cooperation; and of course the ‘mission board’, which saw students program robots to tackle 16 different tasks in a set time.

As part of their project, the local team worked on a ‘safe to flush’ awareness campaign, which they presented to the judges. They then completed four rounds with their robot, beating the clock and cheering with glee as each task was completed. The total robot scores put them in fifth place, the top rookie team of the tournament. The kids, aged 7 to 14, come from various primary schools in West Nipissing. They even gained a bit of notoriety from the event, having been interviewed by MCTV News and shown on television Saturday evening.

“The WNR coaches are all ecstatic with the results, as well as the kids’ progress,” says team coach Jamie Byers, who is also Vice Principal at Northern Secondary School where the group has been meeting twice a week. “Myself, [principal] Laurent Paquette, [teachers] Kevin Baker and Paulette Murphy as well as the parents involved are thrilled with how far our members have come. It was pretty special on Saturday, seeing them banding together and working towards a common goal. (…) Going through the event, you saw that competitiveness come out and we learned even more about them. For them, I think it was a big culmination of all their hard work. Being top rookie team in the robot score was pretty special.”

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The West Nipissing Robotics team was the top rookie team at the First Lego League Challenge on Sat. Dec. 9. Members include (left to right) Adrien Paquette, coach and Northern Principal Laurent Paquette, Robert Ethier, coach Marci Becking, Beau Tessier, Patrick O’Brien, Adrien Gammon-Dubois, Alex Hebert, coach Kevin Baker, Madisson Guidry, coach Paulette Murphy, Emma Hevey, Kurtis Stevens, coach and Vice-Principal Jamie Byers and Atticus Baptiste.