High school students compete in robotics showdown
Goal is to throw the best frisbee
High school students from all over the world were in Calgary to put their creations to the test at the FIRST Robotics Canada competition Saturday.
FIRST, meaning For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, brings together more than 700 high school students worldwide to partner with high-tech companies in building a 64-kilogram robot that will throw the best frisbee.
"They're given an incredibly tough challenge," says Blair Gallant, regional director of FIRST's robotic competition program. "And they're being challenged in a way that they've never been challenged before."
Each team starts with the same challenges, from a set of size restrictions and a simple electronics kit.
After that, it's up to them to build a robot with the best frisbee-throwing aim.
"Go slow — slow one wins the race," says Mahta Samani, a young competitor. "We're rookies and we're learning so fast."
Professional engineers and high-tech companies lend their support to the young competitors.
The City of Calgary has the most engineers per capita in North America.
With so many volunteers available, FIRST Canada had to turn some potential mentors away.
"A whole bunch of people are helping me out," says Fort McMurray competitor Hermon Kurniento. "That is something I appreciate, and so basically, this is everyone's robot, really."
The benefits of working on such a challenge can't be ignored, says Gallant.
"They learn about themselves, how they work with groups, not just the technology side of it, but they also learn how they fit into society," he said.
"It turns young people into young adults."