Thirty schools will be competing in the second staging of the FIRST Tech Challenge Jamaica – National Robotics Championship later this month.
The teams from Glenmuir High School in Clarendon and Dunoon Park Technical High in Kingston were in attendance at the competition launch yesterday.
Captain of the Glenmuir team Tariq Kelly told The Gleaner that his team was formed at the start of the year.
“Our main focus for this year is setting the foundation for the later generations of our robotics club to be able to thrive. We are trying to do outreach as much as possible. We have a prep school, and so we made sure to include them in our outreach,” Kelly said.
The team is coached by their physics teacher, and Kelly said he and his teammates have learnt patience throughout the process.
“It doesn’t always work. He is always there to encourage us and ensure that we continue even on days when the arm decides that it’s not going to work,” he said with a chuckle.
“As much as the robot is very fun for us, the outreach is what has made this truly worthwhile for us – seeing a lot of these kids’ faces light up when they see the robot move [and] seeing scientific concepts become practical,” the team captain explained.
He is hopeful that the team will cop the Inspire Award and be among the outstanding first-year robots.
Schools outside of the urban area have also registered for the championship. Among them are St Hilda’s, York Castle, Spot Valley, Vere Technical, and Manchester High School.
Also, a key performance indicator is tracking the number of all-girls’ institutions engaged.
Nelson Cole is captain of the Dunoon team, which is participating in the championship for the second year.
“We’ve been able to go out and help other schools. Also, during the various competitions, I’ve learnt how to programme, engineer, and design the robots,” said Cole, who has been a team member since 2018.
The team did not advance to last year’s semi-finals but was chosen by St Andrew Technical High School as alliance partner for the finals.
“Last year, we had one team, but this year, we are entering two to better enhance our chances of winning and to get a better understanding of robotics engineering,” Cole said.
With the competition two weeks away, the team captain said some amount of recalibration would have to take place.
“The feature of our robot is to pick up blocks, but at this point, we are kinda having technical difficulties, so we have to go back to the lab and redesign our robot.”
He is encouraging schools that do not yet have robotics clubs in place to hit the ground running.