More than 800 robot enthusiasts from across Ontario, New York and Michigan converged at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School on November 11 for the 3rd annual hockey-themed STEMley Cup.
While it wasn’t hockey that played out in the arena, the STEMley Cup had all the noise, excitement, action and even aggression of a major sporting event.
Sponsored by ArcelorMittal Dofasco and hosted by St. Mary and Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary Schools, the STEMley Cup Championship is a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) off-season competition that brings high school robotics teams together for one final stab at last year’s STEAMWORKS challenge before the new FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) season begins.
FRC challenges are designed to showcase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) applications in a real world setting, said Superintendent of Education Morris Hucal. Teams are not only challenged to build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks, but to do so under structured conditions and in a limited period of time.
With the help of teacher and volunteer mentors, the students learn to apply science, technology, engineering and math learning to develop a solution to a real world engineering problem. In STEAMWORKS, the 2017 FRC game, that problem is generating power using the resources available in the era of steam. The competition pits two alliances of three teams on a playing field where the object is to score points by shooting wiffleballs (“fuel”) into a “boiler” to produce steam. Extra points are earned by having the robot climb and hang from a rope attached to the airship at the end of the match.
It's not an easy task, stated Chairperson Patrick Daly in words of welcome and congratulations on behalf of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.
“I participated a few days ago with the Bishop Ryan and St. Mary students and I learned I could only do about five percent of what you’re doing, so I am very impressed.”
Thanking the many individuals involved not only in the STEMley Cup, but in school robotics programs, Daly identified one person in particular – Matt Alderson, Head Coach of the St. Mary MakeShift robotics program.
“I single Mr. Alderson out because he represents for me what is good about education in our Catholic schools.”
Daly said Alderson came to the board a few years ago as a parent at Guardian Angels School and introduced robotics to the system.
“It was the only school to participate and a few short years later we have as many students involved as any other school activity.”
“Mr. Hucal and I have attended many sporting events over the years and I’ve never seen as much energy and excitement so I commend every single one involved in this STEMley Cup,” he said.
This year’s STEMley Cup attacted thirty teams across Ontario, New York and Michigan, including robotics teams from Bishop Tonnos, St. Thomas More, Cardinal Newman and St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Secondary Schools.
“It’s a growing field,” said Hucal. “Robotics is very much a part of the fabric of the 21st century and providing opportunities for students to learn about its possibilities is not only important but vital to furthering the science, technology, mathematics and engineering of tomorrow.”