Vancouver’s Gladstone Secondary School is on top of the world this weekend, after taking home first and second place finishes at the VEX Robotics World Championship. This is the first time that a Canadian team has earned the top spot, but even more remarkable is that for the winning “Robosavages” team their toughest competition came from their own classmates.
The VEX Robotics World Championship, held in Anaheim, California, brought together 400 of the top high school robotics teams from around the world. After two days of qualifying rounds, teams formed alliances to enter the playoffs. The winning Gladstone team allied with teams from California and New Zealand, while their classmates and eventual opponents in the final allied with a team from Hawaii, and team “Exothermic Blaze”, from Redmond, Washington. Each alliance advanced through divisional playoffs before meeting in the main arena in front of thousands of spectators.
The double victory caps an exciting year for Gladstone teacher and team sponsor, Todd Ablett, who received the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in November for his work developing Gladstone’s robotics program. “I’d like to thank our dedicated students, our amazing staff and our biggest sponsor… the parents!” Ablett said following the final match.
Lance Balcom, president of the Pacific Youth Robotics Society (PYRS), and a key organizer of robotics events in BC pointed out that, “The key to their victory was a complete redesign of their robot following the BC Championships. They went from having a strong scoring robot to being a defensive juggernaut. They simply shut down their opponents throughout the elimination rounds.” Other BC schools represented at the event included David Thompson Secondary from Vancouver and Cambie Secondary, from Richmond, who also put in a strong showing, making it through to their divisional semi-finals.
There are over sixty VEX robotics teams in BC. Teams have the opportunity to qualify for the world championships at five tournaments held in Courtenay, Richmond, at the BC Institute of Technology, and in Washington State. PYRS Secretary Jason Brett observed, “This was the culmination of hundreds of hours of work by the students. Not only did they work all year to qualify for ‘Worlds’, but planning and fundraising for the trip took months. The commitment and dedication of the students and their teachers is truly astounding.” The Gladstone Secondary teams are flying back to Vancouver on Tuesday, arriving at YVR at 12:15pm.