The Elmira District Secondary School robotics squad, Team 4917, competed with more than 400 teams from around the world in St. Louis last month at the FIRST® Robotics Competition Championship. The team was part of the alliance that came home with a ninth overall finish at the world championships. The Elmira robotic team is one of two teams in Waterloo Region District School Board and is ranked in the top 60 of the world.

Team 4917 from Elmira District Secondary School at the 2017 FIRST Robotic Competition Championship

“It’s very rewarding to attend competitions and meet other students who have different skills and knowledge, but similar interests,” said Emily Klosa, Grade 12 student at Elmira District Secondary School. “I look forward to coming back to Elmira as a mentor and helping them succeed and reach their potential.”

Emily will attend the University of Waterloo in September to study mechanical engineering, after originally wanting to become a veterinarian.

The FIRST® Robotics Competition Championship provides an environment for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math, to a professional live sporting event. Each team receives strict rules, limited resources to design, build and program robots to complete tasks better than their competitors, and then the competition takes place at the Edward Jones Dome.

“It’s not just as simple as building a robot,” said Ron Fletcher, teacher at Elmira and head coach of the robotics team. “Each year, we have 30 students involved in the process of building a business plan, engineering, programming, manufacturing, marketing, scouting and fundraising to ensure we’re successful throughout the school year.”

A full season, including world championships, will cost teams approximately $40,000 to build robots, travel to the competitions and cover the registration for the events themselves. Throughout the summer, the team will continue to fundraise and market their robotics team.

“The robotics program is impacting the lives of students outside of the classroom. Students are receiving cooperative education placements, along with being hired by local tech companies,” said Gord Maier, teacher at Elmira. “Students are receiving employability skills that are a bit more difficult to simulate inside the classroom.”

For the last three years, students from Elmira have been working with students at Park Manor Public School to introduce and bring real-life STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) scenarios into the classroom for a younger audience. Elementary schools can participate in FIRST® LEGO League, which provides real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots. Each year, more than 3,500 teams from 62 countries compete in robotic competitions.

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