Welcome back! LanceBotics returns to LHS

Team members Nevin Katkic, Ates Tural, Alyssa Tan and Allison Nickel. Photo Fiona Lee.
Team members Nevin Katkic, Ates Tural, Alyssa Tan and Allison Nickel. Photo Fiona Lee.

After a hiatus during the pandemic, Leaside High School’s Robotics Team, LanceBotics, is once again doing what they love to do: building robots and taking part in competitions. Their name, by the way, is derived from the common name for Leaside’s teams, the Lancers and their mascot, Lance.

VEX Robotics Competitions involve high school students from around the world building and programming robots to compete in games on regional, provincial and international levels. Over 60 countries and 22,000 schools take part in the competitions.

According to Jenny Wang, one of the staff advisors, the goal of VEX Robotics is to create “a STEM program in action, providing an opportunity for students to improve their teamwork and problem-solving skills. Ultimately, students become more competitive global citizens to build a better future for the world.”

Between 2013 and 2020, the LanceBotics team won an impressive 28 awards at various levels of competition. This year’s team comprises 50 members spread over three teams: the coed 200K team, the all-female 200G team, and the coed media team, which manages their online presence to showcase the team’s “robotics adventures” and handles community outreach in gaining sponsors.

Lancers Nathaniel Lau, Marston Mark and Ethan Lau. Photo Kevin Katkic.
Lancers Nathaniel Lau, Marston Mark and Ethan Lau. Photo Kevin Katkic.

To prepare for competitions, members spend time building and programming the robots, strategizing, and practising the game. Another staff advisor, Sable MacLean, is impressed by the dedication, solidarity and skills of the team leaders and members. As Allison Nickel and Alyssa Tan, co-captains of the media team, explain, the group is a community of friends who “share a passion in a safe, fun place where they enjoy working to achieve a goal.”

This year’s VEX game is called “Over Under” and is based on soccer. The LanceBotics team took part in two regional competitions. The first was in Brampton in November where Leaside ranked in second place for public high schools in Ontario. In the second competition, at Appleby College in Oakville in February, team 200G was chosen to take part in an alliance and made it to the quarter finals. Team 200K was also chosen for an alliance and competed among the top 16 teams.

The team has already started planning for next year’s competitions, which can be costly, as funds are required for the game, parts and materials, registration in, and transportation to, events and promotional materials. As a result, the team needs to raise funds from a variety of sponsors. Community mentor and coach Russell Mark not only provides technological advice, but assists them with finding sponsors both within the school community and the larger community.

He has already connected the team with the Bayview Leaside BIA and MPP Stephanie Bowman. He also nominated them for the King Charles III Award for Excellence in Community Service and Sports, highlighting the relevance of STEM activities and the team’s emulation of a technology start-up. They received the award from Stephanie Bowman and MP Rob Oliphant in January.

In reflecting on the year, team captain Nevin Katkic is proud of the way LanceBotics has “rebuilt itself from the ashes of the pandemic” and believes they are developing a strong and capable group to ensure a long and successful future because of the commitment and passion of all the members. Go, team, go!

About Janis Fertuck 109 Articles
Janis Fertuck is a retired English teacher who spent the last 30 years of her career at Leaside High School. She enjoys writing about the vibrant Leaside community where she and her husband have lived for 22 years. Her other favourite pursuits include a part-time job at a boutique on Bayview and volunteering with the Bayview Pixies.