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TCDSB Students from Blessed Pope John Paul II Celebrate Achievement at FIRST Robotics Competition
The Robopanthers (@Robopanthers) have done it again! For the second time in two years, a team of students from Blessed Pope John Paul II have designed a semi-finalist robot for the FIRST Robotics GTA East Regional.
FIRST, also known as For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is an international robotics program, more commonly referred to as the “Hardest fun ever”. Every January, teams are given a design challenge. They then have 6 weeks to design, prototype, build, and test a robot that will compete at regional competitions in March.
This year’s challenge, known as Aerial Assist, required robots to work cooperatively to pass and throw large yoga balls into a goal. BPJPII students began planning different designs in January, eventually settling on a direct-driven launcher arm shortly before the exam break. February brought cold weather and long nights in the construction technology shop, but also great progress on the robot. Despite the level of commitment, the team remained positive, energetic, and always ready to have some fun. The final coats of paint and last-minute repairs were completed less than an hour before the “stop-build” deadline.
The Robopanthers then turned their eyes to the GTA East Regional Competition, held annually at the University of Ontario - Institute of Technology. As the sole representative from the TCDSB among the 48 teams, the Robopanthers quickly rose to the challenge of holding their place among more experienced teams. During two days of qualification matches, the Robopanthers adapted their driving style and strategy to win 8 games. This placed them in 16th position overall.
Months of hard work paid off in effective teamwork, critical design choices, and creative problem solving at the event. In between matches, team members scrambled to the pit to repair robot damage and replace depleted batteries. In true team spirit, the stands were alive with the sounds of BPJPII fans cheering on the drivers.
During the elimination round, the Robopanthers were selected by a veteran, hall-of-fame team to join their playoff alliance. The alliance was very strong, advancing to the semi-finals where they were eventually defeated in a heartbreaking match that came right down to the buzzer.
The Robopanthers, only two years old, continue to defy expectations in a program that typically requires decades of time and investment. On a shoe-string budget and with minimal resources, they have placed in the semi-finals two years in a row. And the future looks bright. They already have ambitious plans to spend the off-season learning about 3D modelling, using a new CNC router, and ramping up their fundraising efforts. Whatever their future challenges, we can be sure they will continue to proudly represent BPJPII and the TCDSB. Go Robopanthers!
The Robopanthers are generously sponsored by the TCDSB, BPJPII, Toronto Police 43 Division, the University of Waterloo, Triple M Metal, and a few other local supporters. They continue to seek corporate sponsors and experienced mentors as they grow the robotics program in Scarborough. Visit their website ( or twitter (@Robopanthers) for more information.loading.jpgdrive.JPGTeam Picture 2.jpg