St. Albert Excessive College’s Thunderstruck will not be solely an award-winning robotics team however a bunch of ambassadors to college students in different states and nations.
The team had a Zoom session on Jan. 25 with Starburst, the robotics team at the Diocesan Ladies’ College in Hong Kong, China, in accordance with Kevin White, St. Albert director of communications.
It was one among many cross-cultural connections the team has made, in accordance with Andrea Barnes, co-coach alongside with Lynn Gardner.
“We have interacted with teams from 40 states and 10 countries,” she stated. “We have had contact with a team from Greece but haven’t been able to hammer out a time that works for us both.”
Senior Abby French, social media supervisor for the team, often receives direct messages from groups around the world through Instagram, she stated. Often, she is skeptical.
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“Sometimes we’re like, ‘I don’t know what that call’s going to be like,’’’ she said. “But I saw their message and I looked at their team and I was like, ‘This looks legit. Their team is around the same level as ours.’’’
The two teams exchanged messages and hope continued to rise — especially when Thunderstruck learned that Starburst’s team is fluent in English and had no problem speaking English during the call, White said.
Next came the matter of navigating the time difference. Hong Kong is 14 hours ahead of Council Bluffs. Thunderstruck received special permission to be in the school on Wednesday night — which is church night, so all practices usually end sooner than normal. The call was scheduled for 8 p.m. Wednesday, which was 10 a.m. Thursday in Hong Kong.
French said it began slowly, like any first conversation among strangers.
“We were all shy at the beginning, but they had a presentation for us, and after they presented that we warmed up to each other,’’ she said.
Barnes said it was something special to witness.
“I think they were just really excited to talk to a team from so far away,’’ she said. “It was just two groups of teenagers talking. Our kids were well-informed and asked good questions.”
Each groups compete on the FIRST Tech Problem and face comparable technical points, Barnes stated.
“They have kind of the same problems, the same ways of thinking about things,” she stated. “Yet they are still having a lot of fun. Everybody was laughing and talking. I’m so proud of these kids.’’
While Thunderstruck is nearing the end of its season, Starburst is just beginning its season. That allowed the Council Bluffs team to offer some words of wisdom to their counterparts.
“We were telling them problems that we’ve had at matches so far and what to look out for,’’ French said. “We were talking about ideas. One of their ideas was a turntable on a robot. Sammy (Horvath) said, ‘That was our idea, but we were told by one of our mentors that it probably wouldn’t be the best idea.’
“Sammy thought it was really cool that they had the same idea and that was exactly what their team was having struggles with,” French stated.
Certainly one of the causes the groups have a lot in widespread is that FIRST Tech Problem is a corporation that holds robotics competitions around the world. So regardless that their seasons are at completely different occasions of the faculty 12 months, basically they’re competing below the identical (pointers). The hashtag #FTC carries loads of weight and hyperlinks groups throughout the globe.
“The game is universal, so they will use the same playing field and use the same scoring,” Barnes stated. “Almost every state has an FTC organization, and usually just a few teams move from their championship to worlds.
“North America worlds competitions are in Houston or Detroit, and I think they are only teams from the United States. There will be other world championships in different locations around the world, but as far as I know, there isn’t an all-teams world championship.”
French stated the Zoom name proved that youngsters are youngsters, even when they’re hundreds of miles aside and seemingly separated by quite a few cultural and logistical obstacles.
“I guess I hadn’t thought of a team from another country being so similar to us, having the same issues, the same strengths and even the same ideas,” she stated. “I just thought it was interesting how similar we were.’’
It won’t be the last time Thunderstruck team members talk to their new friends, Barnes said.
“Our plan is to repeat the Zoom call with Hong Kong to see how their season is going,” she stated.
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