KDSS Kinetic Knights
unveil new robot

By Liz Dadson


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The Kincardine District Secondary School Kinetic Knights' robot gets ready to balance on one of the bridges at the centre of the practice field Thursday night during the open house at the Lake Huron Learning Centre on Queen Street, Kincardine

The crowd watches as the build team fixes a couple of glitches before putting on a demonstration of the robot

The robot balances on a bridge at the centre of the practice field

By Tuesday (Feb. 21), work will have ceased on the new robot that the Kincardine District Secondary School Kinetic Knights are entering in the FIRST  (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition.

The robot was unveiled Thursday night at the Lake Huron Learning Centre, on Queen Street, Kincardine, in front of a crowd of parents, politicians and members of the community.

As usual, the formal presentation did not go as smoothly as hoped, with a couple of glitches. However, once it got rolling, the robot demonstrated perfectly how it could balance on one of the three bridges in the practice field, and then shoot basketballs at the nets at the one end.

There are 40 students, Grades 9-12, and 20 mentors on the Kinetic Knights Robotics Team 781. Some members of the team design and build the robot, while others work on administrative details, such as the website and sponsorship.

Leading the build team is James Jackson, while in charge of the administrative team is Tawny Robinson.

The build team has been working for about six hours each day after school and more hours on weekends, for the past six weeks since the challenge - the "Rebound Rumble - was announced Jan. 7.

"It's nice to have it finished," said James. "Sometimes we kept working at it until much later than 10 p.m. but it's been worth the effort. We have to bag up the robot Tuesday and it goes with us to the competitions."

It was also exciting for the team to showcase the new robot Thursday night.

Before the official unveiling, team member Kush Joshi thanked all the team members and fantastic mentors who have worked so hard to complete the robot, as well as the sponsors and the Lake Huron Learning Centre for allowing the use of that space for the team to practise.

"This is our 11th year in the FIRST competition," said Tawny. "The team has spent a lot of time programming, designing and building. This is the build team's time to shine."

She added that the Kinetic Knights try to give back to the Kincardine community, which supports them so well, by participating in such things as the Terry Fox Run and the Relay for Life.

Last year, the team went all the way to the world championships in St. Louis, Missouri, and placed second.

This year, the Kinetic Knights will compete at the Toronto regional in Oshawa March 8, followed by the Waterloo regional March 22, and the Queen City regional in Cincinnati, Ohio, April 4-8. If they win at the regional level, they will go on to the worlds, again in St. Louis.

"We hope to win at least one, maybe two, maybe all three regionals," said James. "That would be great."

The challenge involves basketball. The KDSS team will join an alliance of three teams and compete against another alliance. There are three bridges to cross at the centre of the field, and at the far end are basketball nets into which the robot must throw foam basketballs.

At the end of the competition, the robot and/or all three robots must balance on one of the bridges.

The team actually builds two robots - one that is packed up for competition, and one to use for practice, said KDSS teacher/mentor Rob Kobielski who took the team to the world finals last year.

For more information about the Kinetic Knights and the robotics challenge, check the website at: www.team781.com

Nikhil Deshpande (L), James Jackson and Bradley Reid of the build team check out the robot before the demonstration

Last year's robot (L) sits beside this year's robot in the practice field

Nikhil Deshpande (L), mentor Pat O'Cain, James Jackson and Bradley Reid work on the robot

The robot prepares to shoot a foam basketball into the hoops at one end of the practice field

KDSS Kinetic Knights robot in action

Munaza Saleem (L) and Matt Pagnan of the Kinetic Knights work on the programming end of things

Kush Joshi (L), James Jackson and Tawny Robinson of the Kinetic Knights welcome everyone to the open house

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Monday, February 20, 2012