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Many byproducts of Comox Valley robotics competitions

HIGHLAND SECONDARY SCHOOL
HIGHLAND SECONDARY SCHOOL'S robotics team competed at a VEX robotics tournament in Vancouver in December.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Vanier will host a student designed robot competition tournament this Saturday.

School District 71 students have been busy working in teams with mentoring by coaches in preparation for the annual Vancouver Island VEX robotics tournament.

The public is invited to come to the Vanier Secondary School's gym on Jan. 28 to support Comox Valley students in Grades 9 to 12 in the competition. Qualifying matches happen from 9 a.m. to noon, and playoffs happen from 1 to 3 p.m.

"If you haven't been to a VEX robotics event, you don't want to miss it," said Randy Grey, career programs co-ordinator at Sandwick Technical Education Project.

Earlier in the school-year, teams of four students were given a task that a robot must do. They then designed a robot they believed would do the task best. But, there are four robots on the court at a time during the tournament, which complicates the competition, according to Grey.

"Problem solving is the focus of the activity," explained Grey. "There is a lot of strategy to how you play the game. This is where students must work together in alliances.

"The skills these students learn, such as design, computer programming, problem-solving, building, electronics and math, just seem to be a byproduct of competition."

Thirty-nine student teams are coming from far and wide for the tournament, including 14 teams from Vancouver Island and others from as far away as Washington State.

Grey said the tournament is so popular that organizers had to put a cap on the size of it.

In December, some Comox Valley teams went to Vancouver for a VEX robotics tournament with 64 teams in attendance.

On Saturday, Vanier will also have a Lego robotics demonstration for younger, "potential roboteers."

"Our school district has been working diligently to slowly integrate robotics into the curriculum in our elementary schools by offering clubs, and this year actually implementing Lego robotics into Grade 5 science curriculum with simple machines," said Grey.

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