Botwood Collegiate will be representing the province at a national skills championship next month – for the third year in a row.
The Botwood Collegiate robotics team of Tyler Mills, Cody Diamond, Ryan White and Amber Best, won gold in the Robotics – Secondary (team of four) portion of the 15th annual Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Skilled Trade and Technology Competitions which took place in St. John’s on Friday, March 30.
Over 200 competitors from across the province competed in trade, technology and employability skill areas, and nearly 100 medals were awarded.
And the robotics team were not the only Botwood Collegiate students to return home with medals. Victoria Saunders also won gold in Workplace Safety.
According to teacher sponsor Brian Antle, Botwood Collegiate’s Technology co-ordinator, the school has had a robotics team in competition for four years, however, for the first time this year, they had eight students in competition.
“That is our largest ever,” Antle said. “We’ve only ever competed in the robotics one before. This year we also sent four students in other areas besides robotics. Out of those we also had one person who was successful in winning workplace safety, so she’s going to Edmonton with us as well.”
Also competing were Christina Michelin in job interview; Nathan Jenkins in job demonstration; and Emily Loder in prepared speech.
The robotics team has the same four members as last year, however, the students had to rebuild their robot because of the scope outlined by the competition.
“We started back in October,” Antle said, adding a thank you to ProWeld Industries Inc. for donating expertise, time and supplies to fabricate the base of the robot. “This year we had to build a robot that was able to pick up a piece of wood that measured 3 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches and they had to deliver it to a shared pan that was also mobile on casters.”
It wasn’t until Monday of the week of the competition that the team had the robot to where they needed it to be, Antle said.
The competition, Antle explained, started off with 56 blocks in a pyramid - 28 blocks per team and in differing colours.
“We had to pick up our own blocks and deliver them to this three-tier pan,” Antle said. “The pan was approximately 36 inches in diameter, but each row was only about eight inches. You had to drop your block in over the top of the pan without breaking either one of the vertical or horizontal plains in doing so. Whatever blocks remained on that pan, which could have been bumped around by the other teams, counted at the end of the round. It was a great bit of fun.”
Saunders, winner of he Workplace Safety competition, had a written exam, gave a presentation, and went into a mock situation where there were a number of safety violations she had to identify.
“Based on those components, each person would have been scored and she ended up in first place,” Antle said.
Saunders is also doing the Workplace Safety 3220 course at the school, where she would have gained her expertise in the area, he said.
When it came to medal presentations, all five students were excited with their wins.
“They were elated,” Antle said.
The Botwood Collegiate robotics team was in Waterloo, Ont., two years ago, and Quebec City, Que., last year for national competitions.
This year, the team, along with Saunders, will be travelling to Edmonton, Alta., May 13-16 for the 18th Annual Skills Canada National Competition.
“They are looking forward to it,” Antle said.
Antle is also a member of the Skills Canada National Technical Committee this year, so he is heavily involved in preparations for the upcoming national event, and will also be judging.
“Unfortunately, I will not be traveling with my team to Edmonton, I will be up there prior to them coming to set up for competition,” he said.
Karen Antle is going as the teacher chaperone, and Brian Ball, who works with Nalcor in Grand Falls-Windsor, is the team mentor and main technical coach and will be travelling with the team as well.
“I had the chance to meet the robotics team from Botwood when they traveled to the 2011 Skills Canada National Competition in Quebec City and they are quite an incredible group of young people,” said Melissa Halford, communications and event co-ordinator with Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador.
Halford said the energy exuberated by the team at this year’s provincial competition didn’t go unnoticed as they danced on the podium after their gold medal win.
”This energy completely exemplifies the type of outgoing individuals that make up this team,” Halford said. “We’re thrilled to have them representing our province at Nationals again this year.”
Antle said they are actively fundraising to help offset the cost of the registration fees, and anybody who gives a donation for extra curricular activities are tax deductible through the Botwood Collegiate Foundation.
“We set up a foundation about four years ago I guess, and it was mainly set up to oversee the breakfast program and donations to it, and also to our awards and scholarships night,” Antle said. “But since then, we have also expanded it to include extra curricular activities as it relates generally to national competitions.”
Anybody who would like to make a donation can call the school at 257-2497 or email Antle at email@example.com.