Another whirl at the Worlds!

Kinetic Knights shine in Ohio

By Josh Howald

Kincardine District Secondary School has once again proven itself world class in the field of robotics.

The Kinetic Knights FIRST Robotics Team 781 spent Easter weekend in Ohio, and came back with a Regional championship and a second straight berth at the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, MO.

It took a last second basket by a human to lift the KDSS team, seeded 21st in a field of 56, to victory this year at the Queen City Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) competition.

“It’s just the most amazing feeling,” said AJ Adams, student council president and public relations assistant for Team 781.

“We proved last year wasn’t a one-hit wonder kind of deal.”

Last year, the Kinetic Knights turned heads when the team finished second in the world.

This season, the Knights moved through three regional competitions to qualify for the Easter weekend tourney in Cincinnati, which featured schools from Canada, the United States and Brazil. This year’s game is a basketball themed contest with robots scoring baskets and balancing on seesaw-style bridges.

Team 781 was invited to join an alliance with two Indiana-based schools. Despite being underdogs in each match, the alliance was able to balance three robots on the bridge and ended up in the final match. Kincardine’s alliance took the first game 91-83, the highest scoring game of the tournament. After narrowly dropping the second game, the rubber match was neck and neck until the dying seconds when human player Luke Splettstoesser scored from across the field for a 64-62 win.

About 40 KDSS students are involved with the Kinetic Knights, as well as 10 mentors (teachers and community members). The team has two parts – Admin and Build. The team is given six weeks to design and build a robot designed with a game in mind. The team has a practice field at the Lake Huron Learning Centre, and during the competition there is a drive team, which consists of James Jackson, Matt Pagnan, Bradley Reid and Splettestoesser.

Eleven members of last year’s team graduated, but most of the team was around for last year’s success – and some are even five-year veterans.

 “Our success last year gave us a boost of team morale and confidence,” said Adams.

There is plenty of behind the scenes work to look after, as well as bills to pay. Right now, the team pays for trips and members who wish to go pay a fee. The majority of the cost is covered by the team, which maintains a budget with sponsorship funds. In order to pay for this trip to St. Louis, the students will hold a Penny War at the school this week and host an elementary school dance. If you would like to sponsor the team, you can call the high school or E-mail

The world championships in St. Louis will kick off April 24 and run for five days. You will be able to follow along with streaming video on the team’s award winning website, as well as on twitter and facebook. This is the fifth straight year the Kinetic Knights have won an award for its website.

Can Kincardine top last year’s second place finish?

“I think we have been able to look at what we did and improve on it,” said Adams. “Our strategy is better, our scouting is better, team spirit is better.”