Two northern Ontario teams will be attending the FIRST Championship world robotics competition in the United States next week.

Teams of high school students from Manitoulin Island and North Bay have both qualified to compete in Detroit, Michigan April 24 – 27.

FIRST stands for: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology

Competing on the world stage is something the Wikwemikong High School FIRST Team 5672 can’t wait for after placing first in the recent provincial competition.

“We’ve never even made it to provincials as a team before. To come this far in one year is really exciting.” said Mary Pangowish, member of the team from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory. 

Team 5672 participated in the provincial championships last week in Mississauga, and although the team did not advance past the round robin qualifications, they were awarded the Chairman's Award, which qualified the team to participate in the world championship.

Chris Mara is the teacher and mentor for FIRST Team 5672 and he is extremely proud of his students’ accomplishments.

“The Chairman’s Award really focuses on the impact that your team has on individuals on the team and on your community. And kind of your outward focus as a team on inspiring other people, other young people, to be involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” said Mara.

The teacher says he hopes by competing at this level, the team is doing just that.

“There’s 400-600 teams competing at the worlds, but we will be the only all-First Nation team and Indigenous team.” said Mara.

Pangowish is the recipient of the provincial Dean’s List Award in the recent provincial competition.

She also has the chance to win the same award, but at the world level.

 “It makes me really proud to be a part of the team that’s going to change what First Nations kids think that they can achieve.” said Pangowish.

North Bay’s FIRST Team 1305 has also qualified for the competition and it will be the team’s 16th year in a row at the event.