A pair of 12-year-old robotics enthusiasts from Vermilion recently came back from the Alberta Provincial VEX Competition in Edmonton on Feb. 15 with three awards, ranking fourth overall against 37 high school teams.
Kadin Morritt and his friend Rhys Racine were by far the youngest participants in the competition, which requires students to design and build a robot to go up against other teams in game based challenges.
“First of all, VEX is a robotics group. They’re a non-profit and they want to teach young kids how to do stuff like this and it’s pretty interesting,” said Rhys. They brought home the Amaze Award, which is granted to the team that demonstrates overall quality in their robot design, and they earned second place for programming skills and third in driver skills.
In order to get enough money to build the robot, they had to raise the funds themselves. They did this by holding bake sales outside of Morritt’s mother’s photo studio in the Vermilion mall. Half the money went to charity and the other half went to robotics parts.
It was because of this particular effort they chose the team name The Baking Robots and dubbed their creation “Cookie,” as they acquired most of the parts by selling one cookie at a time. They also received a generous donation when a local busi - nessman heard about what they were trying to do.
“The owner of Vermilion Limousine Services came and gave me a $600 donation to go toward our robot,” said Kadin.
After they purchased the parts for Cookie, built him and brought him to life, they were able to practice for the competition. The boys admit that going up against 35 teams of high schoolers was intimidating, but joking around helped keep the mood relaxed.
“The other teams are all focused, they have their game faces on and these guys are wrestling and goofing around,” said Kadin’s mother, Kim Morritt, with a dose of humour. “Their minds are amazing but they’re still 12 years old. It’s really funny.”
“I think that actually helps us because it helps loosen the tension,” Kadin said.
Now that the Edmonton competition is over, the three teams that won the challenges, and a fourth team that wins best in programming skills that isn’t already selected, get to go to the world’s competition in Louisville, Ky.
The Baking Robots don’t know for sure if they are the fourth team but they still remain positive.
“We scored second place and the people that are already going won first place, so we’re just waiting for the phone call,” Racine said with comedic confidence.
In the event that they do get the phone call that will send them to the world championship, the boys say they will need more sponsors to help pay for airfare and expenses. Anyone interested in helping send Cookie and The Baking Robots to Kentucky can check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bakingrobots.