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Lourdes students looking to repeat at robotics world championship (VIDEO)

Team 2609, or BeaverworX, from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic High School compete at the FIRST Robotics World Championship in Houston Apr. 17 to 20

Apollo is heading for Houston!

Apollo is the name of the robot built by Team 2609 – better known as BeaverworX – a group of students, mentors and volunteers at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic High School who are competing at the 2024 FIRST Robotics World Championships in Houston later this month.

BeaverworX won a world championship a year ago, but the team is treating 2024 as a clean slate.

But there is a recognition the team will have more eyes on them this time around.

“I think we put higher expectations on ourselves because of how well we did,” Aydan Boynton, this year’s team captain, told GuelphToday during a test run of Apollo in the school’s cafeteria.

“We wanted our robot to be better, since we have been improving in the last few years.”

The BeaverworX team assembles around Apollo, and are ready for the 2024 FIRST Robotics World Championship. Mark Pare/GuelphToday

It is also a different competition compared to 2023. 

Last year, robots were designed to pick up cones and cubes and place them in a grid as part of a game called CHARGED UP.

This year, the game is called CRESENDO. Robots are designed to score points by retrieving hard styrofoam rings on the ground and launch them into boxes.

Cheline Derpo, a Grade 10 student, is the 'human player' on the Lourdes team. Mark Pare/GuelphToday

A bonus part of the game provides a human element. A designated 'human player' can toss rings at a target in the final 15 seconds of a round to score additional points for the team.

It may not be for distance, but for what it’s worth, Apollo can launch one of those rings about 20 feet. And it can move quickly, based on the demonstration.

Boynton, a Grade 12 student, said the team got a lot better mechanically with the new robot, but did have a few electricity-related struggles.

“Last year, we probably did better in our first regional,” he said. “Our second regional, our robot was working pretty decently. For district champs, we had a good first day and then not such a good second day.”

“The robot was breaking down when we tried introducing new features to make it more competitive.”

One of the Our Lady of Lourdes students checks out the Apollo robot to ensure it is in working order. Mark Pare/GuelphToday 

But with Team 2609 already qualifying for the Houston event after winning a world title at last year’s competition, the regional competitions were a chance to work out any bugs ahead of time.

“I believe we have a very competitive robot for worlds,” said Michael Moore, the founder and lead instructor of BeaverworX. “There’s always good teams from all over the world, so there’s no guarantees with any competition. 

“But we’re going to go and have some fun.”

It’s a lot less hectic than last season, when the team had to make travel arrangements on the fly.

“All the planning is already pre-done,” Moore added. “So we’re a lot more relaxed this year.”

The team was able to secure local company Vinnie’s Mr. Fixit to drive a trailer with the robot to and from Houston.

The FIRST World Championships runs Apr. 17 to 20 in Houston, Texas.