Penticton high school robotics club has shot at international competition | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton high school robotics club has shot at international competition

In competition at the recent Canadian Pacific Regionals.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Penticton Robotics Facebook page
March 10, 2020 - 11:00 AM

What began as an idea for a new club last November has grown into a team of Penticton high school students that could be competing on the international stage in Texas next month.

It was Penticton high school student Nicola Thompson’s idea to create the Penticton Robotics team.

“I’ve been interested in this for a long time. It seemed like a great opportunity all around and there was no other team nearby to join,” the 16-year-old grade 11 student said.

She started looking for a mentor for the team two years ago and their first meeting was held last November. The Penticton students began building their robot at Princess Margaret Secondary School, the team’s ranks bolstered by Pen High students as well.

The team recently entered the FIRST Robotics Competition for the Canadian Pacific Regional Finals in Victoria earlier this month.

Penticton Robotic Club

“The last couple of weeks before the competition they developed a robot that functioned at a higher level than anyone anticipated,” Thompson said.

The competition involved three teams competing against another group of three teams, with random assignments. Thompson said 41 teams competed in 75 matches, with the Penticton team finishing 39th out of the 41 teams.

“Basically, everything that happened was someone else’s fault, it wasn’t our robot’s fault. It was really weird, it was something I didn’t think our robot would experience, but every now and then our robot would break and sometimes it would be because of a lost connection or something like that. The other teams started to notice that and realized our robot would perfectly complement their robot and so we were picked for the next round by the second team,” she said.

The Penticton Robotics team work on their robot.
The Penticton Robotics team work on their robot.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Penticton Robotics Facebook page

“The second place team had been scouting us. It was our technician, Ethan, who started talking to them. They kind of nerded out for a while, talking about their wiring, and ever since then they were watching our team and discovered our robot was really good,” she says.

This time the Penticton team was more successful, but they lost the second match by a single point.

“It was kind of devastating, but we were pretty happy with third place, kind of sad because we could have tied if our robot was still functional,” she said. “We thought we were out but at the awards ceremonies we won the rookie of the year award, which qualifies us to go to Houston for the internationals next month.”

The group is now fundraising in hopes of being able to attend the Houston event, after getting permission from School District 67 school board to make the trip.

Thompson says the group has just started a Gofundme page that is "already doing well."

"We have some sponsors, and we are looking for more. We have raised the $5,000 fee to go to the event, but we still need to raise money for building the robot and travel expenses," she says.

The Houston competition takes place April 14.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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