Team 4678, the CyberCavs, is a high school robotics club from Woodland Christian High School in Breslau, Ontario. It’s part of a worldwide organization called FIRST Robotics Competition, or FRC. FRC is known as ‘varsity sports for the mind’; each year the organization devises a new competition, and teams are given six weeks to design and build robots that perform the competition’s tasks. These tasks include things like throwing frisbees, stacking totes, lobbing balls into goals, and maneuvering robots around obstacles. Teams attend regional competitions, and the winners of these competitions attend the World Championships in St. Louis, USA.
Now in its fifth year, the CyberCavs club boasts approximately 50 members, where one third are girls. There are many aspects to a robotics club…from designing, building, and programming robots to public relations and finance. The beauty of a club with varied departments is that members are given the opportunity to sample a variety of work. “I learned how to use power tools and [how to] take better pictures,” says Lauryn, a third year member who divides her time between the Build and Public Relations departments. “I’ve gotten good practice at designing documents and writing information about an organization,” says first year member Freda. Shae is in her fourth year, and looks forward to the coming season. “I hope to learn more about building robots. I look forward to supervising the team’s CNC milling machine and using a program called Autodesk Inventor.” Joy-Hannah, a team alumnus in her first year of university, says, “During my first year in robotics I helped out with building by doing lots of riveting, but mostly I have been a part of Public Relations. I worked on a variety of tasks such as gaining sponsors, sewing mascot costumes and the team standard/banner, as well as various other promotional aspects. I enjoyed this because it was a chance to show how interesting robotics is. It was an opportunity to demonstrate that there is a place for everyone in robotics, no matter their interests or abilities. I also acted as the photographer for the team at competitions, which got me the best seat in the house.”
In preparation for the 2017 season, the club invested in several VEX robot kits. VEX robots can be assembled, disassembled and reconfigured in a multitude of ways, and is a great learning tool for students who are new to robotics. Jean, a first-year member, loves programming the VEX robots. “If it doesn’t move as we expect, we can fix it to make it match our requirements. And if it works, we can try to make it better.” She hopes to have a career in programming, so the CyberCavs robotics club is a great way to help her hone her programming skills.
What would the CyberCavs girls tell other girls about robotics? “You don’t need to know how to build a robot to join,” says Shae. “It’s a lot of fun, with all kinds of opportunities,” says Freda. “It’s interesting and I’m learning a lot of skills,” adds Jean. “I don’t see it as a big deal for girls to be involved in our robotics club,” notes Catalina, while Helen sums it up: “It’s a great chance to be a part of a team, and there is something for everyone.”Diva International Inc. (Diva) is proud to sponsor the CyberCavs robotics club. Diva is passionate about providing opportunities to youth, and supporting girls in science, math and technology. For more information on Diva’s initiatives, please visit divacup.com.