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Acadia robot programming competitors learn valuable skills while making friends, having fun

Several Valley teams take part in FIRST LEGO League, ROBOFEST competitions


It’s as much about making friends and having fun as it is about developing and refining robot programming skills.

More than 50 middle school, junior high and senior high school teams from across Nova Scotia converged on the Acadia University Athletics Complex in Wolfville on Feb. 16 for the 14th annual Robot Programming Competitions.

As part of the competitions, young people between the ages of nine and 18 in grades 4 through 12 worked in teams to program LEGO Mindstorm robots to complete challenging missions.

Teams of middle school and junior high school students between the ages of nine and 14 competed in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) challenge. High school teams made up of students between the ages of 14 and 18 competed in ROBOFEST.

Champion teams from the two provincial competitions earn the right to represent the province at world and international competitions.

This year, the FLL teams were tasked with researching challenges people must overcome to travel throughout the solar system for extended periods of time. The “INTO ORBIT” challenge was designed to spark interest in the science of space travel.

Over the past several months, the teams developed innovative solutions. As part of the competition, each team made a presentation to a panel of judges.

Sisters of Science (S.O.S.) team member Amelia Blatch said she likes the fact that the competition involves a true team effort. Everyone on S.O.S., a community team from Kingston, is involved in all aspects of the challenge.

“I really enjoy it when you finish a mission and you know it works every single time, because you work so hard on it and then when you can finally see it work at the competitions, it’s a good feeling,” Blatch said.

Planet Programmers captain Cohen Lee said his favourite aspects are building robots and hanging out with his friends. The Planet Programmers team is from Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning. The team members saw posters at the school and decided to get involved.

Planet Programmers team member Layne Weisner said one challenge they were facing was that their programs somehow kept getting deleted.

The ROBOFEST competition for high school teams, BinaryBlocks, involved using fully autonomous robots to complete a mission. Robots arrange white and black blocks to represent a four-bit binary number of a targeted decimal number. Students design, build and program the robots.

ROBOFEST encourages students to have fun while learning principles of physical science, computer science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).

The top five teams in ROBOFEST are eligible for a spot at the world championship being held in Southfield, Michigan. The ROBOFEST referees in Wolfville were volunteers from 14 Wing Greenwood.

The high school teams were also involved in a Bottle Sumo Robot Competition. The object of this unofficial competition is to be the first robot to intentionally push a bottle off the table or to be the last robot remaining on the table.

This year, the event included an invitation-only V.I.P. session providing background information and meetings with teams and coaches.

The overall event included approximately 350 students and was supported by about 150 volunteers, including several from Acadia’s Jodrey School of Computer Science.

Winners of the 2018/19 Acadia Robot Programming Competition


(ages 9 to 14)

• Champion 1st Place – Royal Robots – Annapolis West Educational Centre

• Champion 2nd Place – Hippie lEgo loV3rs –Halifax Neighbourhood Team

• Robot Performance Award 1st Place – Royal Robots – Annapolis West Educational Centre

• Robot Performance Award 2nd Place – SPEC Blazers – Sherwood Park Education Centre

• Mechanical Design Award - Axe Robotics – Wolfville community team

• Programming Award – SPEC Blazers – Sherwood Park Education Centre

• Strategy and Innovation Award – 21st Century Space Guys – Kentville Neighbourhood Team

• Core Values Inspiration Award – The Matrix –Bedford Academy

• Core Values Teamwork Award – Musquodoboit Valley Freemakers – community team

• Gracious Professionalism Award – Armbrae Dragonites– Armbrae Academy

• Project Research Award – Shambhala Novas – Shambhala School

• Project Innovative Solution Award – Sisters of Science (SOS) – Community team

• Project Presentation Award – Robo 4K – Community team

• Global Innovation Award Nominee – Sisters of Science (SOS) – community team

Judge’s Awards:

• Against All Odds Award – Sacred Sharks – Sacred Heart Elementary School

• Rising Stars Award – Armbrae Robobits – Armbrae Academy

• Honourable Mention Award – Vipères – Centre Scolaire de la Rive-Sud

ROBOFEST High School Robotics Competition

(ages 14 to 18)

Game Competition (BinaryBlocks)

• 1st Place – Robinsonsphere – King’s-Edgehill School

• 2nd Place – Laplace – King’s-Edgehill School

• 3rd Place – Shelburne Rebels – Shelburne Regional High School

• 4th Place – Royal Robots – Annapolis West Educational Centre

• 5th Place – Grace Christian School – Charlottetown, PEI

• 6th Place – Team Chapp 13 – Musquodoboit Rural High School

Bottle Sumo

• 1st Place – Robinsonsphere – King’s-Edgehill School

• 2nd Place –Robats 2– Horton Community Team

• 3rd Place – Caelus – King’s-Edgehill School

• Judge’s Award – RNS 1 – Rothesay Netherwood School, NB

Outstanding Rookie Coach Award:

• FIRST LEGO League – Brian Lawrence – Sherwood Park Education Centre

• ROBOFEST – Janie Lumsden – Dr. JH Gillis Regional High School

Outstanding Coach Awards:

• FIRST LEGO League – Fred Daugherty - Centre Scolaire de la Rive-Sud

• ROBOFEST – Peter Himmelman – Shelburne Rebels

The Lynn Chipman Memorial Outstanding Volunteer Award - Andrew Elliott, 14 Wing


Karen Wilder Award - Peggy Weir

In recognition of perseverance, resilience and courage in overcoming challenges.

Named for the former director of the RPC.


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