By Robert Stitt
According to The Grio, the Youth Technology Academy Team 120, from Cleveland, Ohio, just won the First Robotics World Championship. The competition boasted over 20,000 students on 640 teams from 42 different countries, including Israel, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Turkey, Taiwan, China and the Czech Republic.
The team from Cleveland is the first from Ohio to win the world championship since it was started 25 years ago, though they did come close once before. The founder and executive director of the Youth Technology Academy, George Bilokonsky, has been coaching the robotics team for the last 14 years. In 2007, he took the district robotics students all the way to the semifinals. Now, in 2016, he finally has his championship.
Technically, this year’s team was not only comprised of teens from Cleveland, although there were hundreds of students from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District on the team. There were also students from Illinois, California, and Virginia.
This year’s competition was based on a Monte Python theme. According to the Cleveland Metro Schools News, students had to build and operate robots that could “knock down defenses, cross moats, open drawbridges, throw boulders and scale the walls of a plywood and acrylic castle that was maybe 15 feet tall.”
Peng Zhou is a member of Team 120, he said, “Everybody worked, had a part to do in the robot, it’s just teamwork.” His Team 120 teammate, Mark Goesser, added, “Some nights we stayed until 10 or 11 o’clock. Friday night consisted of this, we didn’t go to parties, we’re just here working on the robot, it’s a lot of work!”
The members do not seem to mind putting in the time or the study, however, since STEM and engineering are where they want to end up. Iris Harris, another member of Team 120, notes, “I feel like this is not only a big win for Cleveland but it’s also a big win for us and this helps our future!”