School Feature: Robotics Clubs

Robotics Clubs Promote Skills that Go Beyond the Classroom; Four Greater Victoria Schools Confirm “It’s So Much More than Robots”

Reynolds, Esquimalt, Spectrum, and Mount Doug Robotics Clubs are teaching students a vast array of skills from engineering-design thinking, to competition, to teamwork.

Reynolds Reybots, 2023 and 2024 FIRST FTC Provincial Champions.

Over the weekend, Greater Victoria students from Reynolds, Esquimalt, and Mount Doug secondary schools competed in the FIRST FTC Provincial Championships in beautiful Surrey, BC. Students put their mechanical creations to the test while simultaneously gaining new connections and life skills.

“As participants in FIRST Robotics, the students in Robotics Club learn an amazing range of skills,” says Kas Karim, Mathematics Department Head at Reynolds High School and mentor to the Reynolds Reybots, who are two-time FIRST FTC Provincial Championships as of this past weekend. “There are the obvious technical skills that go along with building robots, but there’s also business and entrepreneurial skills that come from managing the ‘business’ side of the team, including outreach activities, project management, and media.”

Students are challenged with researching, fundraising, designing, and building a functional robot as well as programming it to respond to certain commands. First Robotics Teams are given a standard kit of parts and a set of rules that they then expand on to produce a robot worthy of head-to-head challenges in a sport-like environment.

“What we do is so much more than robots,” says Tina O’Keeffe, Computers & Robotics Teacher at Esquimalt High School and mentor to the Atom Smashers. “We are equipping students with skills that are going to serve them above and beyond the competition. Our members learn problem-solving, collaboration, and team dynamics not to mention how to design, build, and program a robot and raise $30,000 along the way to make it all happen.”

Mount Doug (Motivate Award winners at this year’s regional qualifiers) and Spectrum have their own FIRST Robotics teams as well.

“Our students learn so much from these events and each other that we want to continue to grow our programs,” says Bob Lilyholm, Physics & Junior Science Teacher at Spectrum Community School and mentor to the ThunderBots. “Community support and corporate sponsorships go a long way. We are so grateful for donations and hope to inspire more support to keep our teams viable.”

Spectrum and Esquimalt teams will be in attendance at the FRC Pacific Regionals competition this week. Regionals are taking place in Victoria at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre from February 29 to March 2. This will be a very exciting event and is free to the public. We encourage interested community members to attend the qualification and playoff matches:

  • Friday, March 1
    • 8:30am | Opening ceremonies
    • 9:00am-6:00pm | Qualification matches
  • Saturday, March 2
    • 8:30am | Opening ceremonies
    • 9:00am-12:30pm | Qualification matches
    • 1:30pm | Playoffs followed by an awards ceremony
    • 4:30pm | Wrap-up

The Greater Victoria School District encourages students and inspired community members to contact the following individuals if they wish to gain more information or to support the clubs with a donation:

  • Reynolds ReyBots: Kas Karim,
  • Esquimalt Atom Smashers: Tina O’Keeffe,
  • Spectrum ThunderBots: Bob Lilyholm,
  • Mount Doug: Kevin Wilcox,

Provincial Champion Alliance, including Alliance Captain Reynolds Reybots, 1st Alliance member Esquimalt Atom Smashers, and 2nd Alliance member Lightning Bots (from Coquitlam).


Greater Victoria School District No. 61


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