John Farrow introduced Olivia, Charlotte, and Sara from the Machine Mavericks Robotics Team.  Olivia reached out to Bill Egnatoff who suggested them as speakers.  The Mavericks are a community High School Robotics team made up of students from 5 area schools who in their inaugural year made it to the world championships!
 
The Mavericks compete as part of the FIRST ( For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology ) Robotics Canada. At the high school level, teams of 10-50 students design, program and build a 125lb. robot.  FIRST has 4 categories, starting with Lego robotics for kids as young as 6 years of age.
 
The Machine Mavericks are 20 students from 5 different Kingston high schools and are 52% female in membership.  They are unique as they are the only team with their own machine shop (6,000 square feet, with milling machines and plasma cutter), computer lab and practice field.  They are getting lots of media coverage, even from The Agenda on TVO – particularly around their goal of gender parity in club membership.  The Mavericks chose 50% instead of an all-female team because they want to reflect the reality of their future workplaces.
 
The Mavericks were a bit discouraged after their first competition in Toronto, but did some redesign work and won their next competition in Windsor (failure and reworking a project is a big part of the learning process according to the girls).  One success from the first competition was the awarding to the Mavericks of the Rookie Inspiration Award. They then went on to the provincial championships which they won, along with getting the Rookie All Star Award, and then went on to the world competition in Detroit, placing 30th out of 68 teams in their division.  Detroit was a big deal - there were 400 teams from 37 countries!  47,000 people in total descended on the city for this competition.  The competitions require the teams to design and build their robot, then the robot must play a 'game', negotiating obstacles and placing items like balls in a target.  A new game comes out every year and they have just received details of the new game for this year.
 
Outreach is a huge part of what the Mavericks do too.  They have been involved in presenting to and working with younger kids' robotics teams, sponsoring international teams in Puerto Rico, and working to start a 'breakfast with bots' group in local schools.  They have also created handouts on promoting diversity and teamwork.  And they are gracious enough to let the other two area teams use their practice space.
 
After several questions from members, Ed Thomson thanked the members of the team with the usual loaf of bread.  Quite an impressive group of young people judging by their presentation.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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