Victoria Hurricanes Lego robotics team members (back row) Paul Gevers

Kids create Intelligent design

Victoria teens head to international robotics competition

With little money, their fair share of smarts and plenty of teamwork, a group of Victoria youth are heading to Toronto and California with a real stand-up robotic device.

The Hurricanes Lego robotics team, composed of four home-schooled Grade 8 boys, won a regional competition last month and is heading to Lego Land in Carlsbad, California in May for the international championships.

A trip to Toronto is also being hastily planned for the end of April, for a filming of CBC’s Dragon’s Den, where the boys will get to pitch their invention and perhaps find themselves a part of the business world.

What they have come up with is a robotic lift system for a wheelchair that helps people in and out of the chair.

The device fits onto any standard wheelchair, or any other chair, and has a lift which moves the chair into a near-upright position. This allows the person in the wheelchair to more easily stand or elevate themselves.

“They can converse at eye level, they can reach higher things, reach tables or counters,” said team member Micah Alders.

The team started the design in September and, once designed, the actual device took three to four weeks to build. Its framework is all aluminum, cut and bolted by the team, with padding on the seat and arms and a seatbelt, for safety.

First Lego league is an international competitive robotics program for nine to 14 year olds. Teams have at least one adult coach but the youth members must do all of the work.

“We can’t get our dads to build it all for us,” Liam Ensing said.

There are many facets to being successful in competition. There is managing to build, program, operate, and keep functioning, whatever robotic device the team has devised. There’s also the element of teamwork and selling your ideas to judges.

“A lot of things can go wrong,” Liam said. “Your files can get corrupted right before the competition, your robot’s actual structural integrity can stop working.”

“You might have built this robot in your house and it worked perfectly,” Micah said. “(But) only one thing has to unclip and cause more friction and all of a sudden every single thing will be off.”

Team members, which also includes Paul Gevers and Mason Jennings, explained participating in the event teaches them computer programming, engineering, physics and math, along with teamwork.

“I like working with my hands a lot,” Mason said. “We were all practicing soldering all the wires together and stuff like that.”

To get to Toronto and California, the team must pay its own way, with an estimated price tag of $15,000. To raise money, the boys are looking for donations. A bottle drive is ongoing and the team has already received a $1,000 donation from the Victoria Evening Optimists Club.

On Friday, March 29 the team will be at the Wal-Mart at Uptown with their wheelchair device to talk to people, explain their invention and accept donations.

Donations should be brought or mailed to Jennings Florists (2508 Estevan Ave., V8R 2S7), returnable bottles can also be brought to that location.

Just Posted

Oak Bay one step closer to deer immunocontraceptive test

Up to 80 deer could be given ‘birth control’ vaccine in the fall

Parents still seek clarity for future of Victor School

Motion avoided to remove special needs Victor School from boundary review proposal

Head of Victoria homebuilders says provincial budget won’t solve housing crisis

Casey Edge of Victoria Residential Builders Association dismisses more modular housing as a band-aid

Two missing Victoria children found safe

VicPD responded to two separate missing children calls Tuesday

Study moves Oak Bay closer to contraceptive control for problem deer

The report says between 78 and 128 black tail deer live in the affluent beach-side community

VIDEO: Massive elk herd runs across Washington State highway

Elk have been making an appearance in the Pacific Northwest

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of Feb. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

Winter storm freezes U.S., halts air travel

Storm dumps snow or heavy rain, snarls travel in much of U.S.

Gwyneth Paltrow: Skier sued me to exploit my fame, wealth

The incident happened in Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died: B.C. police watchdog

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Experts urge caution after 10 human-triggered avalanches across B.C.

One man is still stuck after avalanche on south coast

Most Read