For the third year in a row, the Lancebotics Leaside Robotics Team from Leaside High School are on their way to the World Championships after their best finish ever in the Ontario Provincial VEX Robotics Championships on February 24 and 25. Four teams from Leaside and their robots travelled to the Ontario Championships in St. Catharines, and one team, Team D, finished first in the qualifying round, the only team to remain undefeated there, and second in the tournament overall.
The Lancebotics Team — the term comes from the common name for Leaside teams “Lancers” and the mascot “Lance” — is led by Vincent Lu, curriculum leader for technological education, computer studies and engineering, and numbers about 40 members, divided into four teams. They have already taken part in six competitions this year, gradually improving their placement each time. From April 19 to 22 Team D will face off in Louisville, Kentucky against teams from over 25 countries at the World VEX Robotic Championships, one of only two teams from the TDSB, and the only one to get to Worlds three times.
This year’s project, called “Starstruck,” involves two teams pitting their 18-inch square robots against each other on a 12-ft. by 12-ft. square checkered field. The object of the game is for the robots to place as many of their stars and cubes as possible in the designated zone on the other side of the field, and then for the robots to be hung up on the “hanging bar” at the end of the game. Basically, the robots fight each other for the pieces in the game. Think of it as a more complex and sophisticated version of checkers.
An incredible amount of time and effort goes into preparing for these competitions. For example, the Lancebotics Team have been working on the project throughout the year, including doing research during the summer, staying late to work in the school field room, and spending 10 Saturdays at the school so far this year.
But it is all worth it when they see the outcome of their hard work. Stanley Dimitrov, a Grade 11 driver and builder for Team D, said they have learned “more in Robotics Club than in physics or a first-year university course about how to apply theories in a practical way” and “how to communicate, collaborate and strategize in order to build better robots.”
Teammate Martin Mihaylov, a Grade 11 coach and builder, emphasized that they learn “a lot about better teamwork practices and finding a way to work together” even with people who were previously strangers.
Now there is palpable excitement and a sense of satisfaction and eager anticipation in the club as they look forward to the upcoming bus trip to Louisville – and possible robotics glory.