Waiheke High School Robotics Club secured an amazing second place in their first appearance at national level in the annual Vex IQ competition in Rotorua.
The event on Monday 4 December attracted 35 determined teams from around New Zealand.
Waiheke entered their junior (up to Year 9) team accompanied by physics teacher Tom Mulvey and coach Kelly Bickerton, with the goals of gaining competition experience and placing in the top half.
Team members Fionn Lawley, Braeden Bickerton, Connor Wilton, and Tom Anderson (unable to participate in this event) had been working since term two on their robot.
Last minute technical challenges meant the team had to work frantically to find effective solutions and they arrived at the competition unsure if they could get their bot working – and nearly didn’t pass inspection as their robot was oversize by half a centimetre.
The main event – a “Teamwork Challenge” – consisted of eight qualifying matches. Waiheke performed consistently at a high level with all scores over 100 points. Kelly and Tom were very impressed with the way the boys worked together as a team and positively with their alliance partners.
Then, with two matches to go, disaster struck – their robot was dropped and fell to pieces. The team had less than 10 minutes to work quickly to undo the damage and replace parts – which they just managed to do.
A terrific third place at the end of the qualifying matches had the whole team highly focussed going into the final.
They kept their cool under pressure and were super-excited with their fantastic result – finishing second with their best result of the day – 148 points. The winning team scored 171 points and a trip to the World Vex Event in the USA in April.
Waiheke was also one of only three teams selected to be interviewed on the quality of their engineering notebook – their accomplishments as a first-year team impressed the judges sufficiently for them to be presented with the Judges Award at the closing ceremony.
The club wish to thank their local sponsors – Waiheke Rotary, Waiheke Local Board, and New Hope Op Shop for helping them get there. The club’s senior team (Y10+) will compete in their national competition team late February next year.
• Kelly Bickerton