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Saanich’s Spectrum Thunderbots taking aim at international robotics competition

FIRST robotics regional winners fundraising to reach championships in Texas
The Spectrum Thunderbots won the FIRST Robotics regional championship in early March in Victoria and qualified for next month’s FIRST Robotics championships in Houston. They’re currently fundraising for the trip. (Photo courtesy of Moira Chambers)

An innovative team of students from Spectrum Community School is raising money for a trip to Houston after a win at the FIRST Robotics regional competition in Victoria.

The Thunderbots consist of 11 students between Grade 9 and 12 who spent their entire spring break working on the robot they hope to take to the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) championships in Texas from April 20 to 23 – if they’re able to raise enough money.

Parents, students and teachers have been working to fundraise approximately $40,000 via crowdsourcing and an online silent auction, plus a car wash and bottle drive are currently being organized for April 9.

“Going to Houston would mean a lot, but what means the most is all of the experience we’ve gained,” said Grade 11 student and team member Isaac Preyser. “At these competitions, there is a concentration of knowledge in the robotics field … there are people from all over the world to help you out.”

ALSO READ: Saanich high school students compete in a world-renowned robotics competition

Despite their best efforts ahead of the regional competition, held in early March at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, the Thunderbots arrived with a half-finished robot named Herbie. They worked many hours on the project on day 1 of the competition, but still missed every practice match.

Their spirits were down and they had to make a decision either to quit or rip Herbie apart and create a defence bot.

The team decided Herbie would become Flatty Patty and be on the defence. Flatty Patty prevented other teams from scoring and never missed another match.

The top team in the competition chose the Thunderbots for their alliance for the playoffs and they went on to win the entire Regional Championship. This is the reason they’re now on the roster to head to Houston.

Emma Picco, Grade 9 student on the Spectrum squad, said robotics is new to many team members and learning how to work together while facing challenges was an interesting test.

“Overall, working on a team of people of all different ages and thought processes helped bring different types of ideas to the table,” Picco said, adding she hopes they’re able to attend the competition and apply new knowledge to the tests they’re challenged with.

To help the team get to Houston visit

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