Zone 1 Robotics Olympiad Comes to Kitimat

Hillary Johnson

Computers, coding and robots, oh my! Elementary students from St. Anthony's and Nechako schools gathered at Mount Elizabeth Secondary School to participate, with their hosts, in the regional competition of the World Robotics Olympiad. Zone 1 Robotics organized the event with Rio Tinto providing the sponsorship. Students were grouped by school and age range with the task to build and program robots to complete specific tasks. Zone 1 Robotics General Manager, Domenic Bruneau, explains the history behind the competition.


“Zone 1 Robotics has been there for about 12 years now. It’s a non-profit organization that was founded by teachers in Montreal. After a few years we had so many teams, so we created the event in other cities and last year we were contacted by people in Vancouver and Kitimat. It’s so good that we have our students exposed to robots and to programing early in their life.”


Nechako Elementary teacher and robotics coach, Tom Wilkinson, said the students have been hard at work, building and programing their robots. He went on to describe how the competition works.


“The judging works with each competition having specific rules. With the third alarm challenge, the students get awarded points for knocking victims out of the window, bringing the victims back into designated areas. If the students hit a window by accident, certain points are deducted. With the sumo challenge, students have three minutes to beat their opponent by pushing them out of the sumo mat or by pinning them against the can.”


Wilkinson explained the positive impact robotics have on the students.


“The biggest thing they learn isn’t necessarily specific robotics skills but its perseverance and trial and error. There is a lot of dedication; they learn a lot of team work; they learn a lot of perseverance and bouncing back when things don’t quite work the way want to, so definitely, a lot of dynamic skills the students are learning.”


Rio Tinto supplied the robotic kits to all three schools as well as trainers, to work directly with the students, prior to the competition. With this being the first year that Kitimat schools were able to participate in this event, Wilkinson hopes this will continue in the years to come.

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