One of the world's leading after-school robotics programs is at Governor Simcoe SS in St. Catharines. Governor Simcoe recently cemented its international reputation with a second-place finish in the 19th annual global FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competition in Atlanta.
FIRST, a New-Hampshire-based not-for-profit group, promotes programs in all grades, from Lego for kindergarten children to robotics for high school students.
More than 500 teams from 30 countries competed in the three-day mid-April event that attracted 20,000 people, including sponsors, mentors and volunteers. Contestants must develop and build robots from scratch to compete in a contest whose rules are provided just six weeks before the tournament.
“We’re very, very pleased with our performance,” said Greg Phillips, OCT, the technical director for Governor Simcoe’s 22-member simbotics team, which won the 2008 FIRST overall prize and has regularly been at least a quarter-finalist.
Phillips, who teaches manufacturing and technological design, devotes much of his personal time to ensuring that his school’s teams have every possible advantage. Preparation for the competition is nearly a year-long effort involving training, and various qualification stages.
Stoney Creek’s Orchard Park SS also won one of four robotics divisional championships as well as the prestigious Engineering Excellence Award for robotics design, while the Near North DSB earned the Gracious Professionalism Award, and student Ian Graham from Korah Collegiate in Sault Ste. Marie made the Robotics division’s Dean’s List.
Recently, the province allocated $3 million over five years to expand FIRST Robotics Canada’s reach in Ontario.