RoboGames are Back – fourth annual competition to be held in Nelson

In 2010, KAST and the Nelson Tech Club joined forces with 6 Kootenay Boundary middle schools in holding the 1st Annual Robogames. Twenty-four students, aged 12 to 17 created the robotic entries which battled for robotic supremacy. In 2016, we’re hosting nearly 40 teams and over 80 participants in our largest, most ambitious event to date.

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TMTVNEWS.COM – NELSON BC CANADA – Lead by NTC President, Brad Pommen, the Nelson, BC Hackerspace shouldered the mentoring and guidance, along with assistance from many of the society’s Directors. Focusing on the design, programming and assembly, youth built autonomous robotic vehicles using Raspberry Pi, Lego Mindstorms NXT kits and Arduino-based rovers. Robotics offers a unique way to engage youth in science and technology and is successful in doing so. One hundred percent (100%) of participants surveyed after the 2013 RoboGames stated that they wanted to keep learning about science, technology and engineering. Seven out of ten respondents (70%) stated that they were thinking about a career in technology, computer science or engineering; almost half (44%) stated that their dream job was to become an engineer.

RoboGames is offered in partnership with the Nelson Tech Club, a community organization for technology enthusiasts who gather to share ideas, knowledge, resources and opinions in a friendly and collaborative atmosphere. With a motto of “Build, Learn, Share,” the club has over 300 youth and adult members and meets weekly at space donated by Selkirk College in Nelson. With members ranging in ages from 4 to 94, it is one of Canada’s largest all-ages, public Hackerspaces.

Robotics training ramps up ahead of RoboGames!

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Teams from West Kootenays in training

They’re off! The fourth annual RoboGames competition has launched, and teams of youth ages 10‐16 are hard at work
designing, building and programming robots across the West Kootenays. All teams are preparing for the 2016 RoboGames competition to be held on Saturday, February 20 from 9 am to 3 pm at Selkirk College’s Mary Hall in Nelson.

RoboGames is a collaborative initiative between the Nelson Tech Club and GLOWS, with support from the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology and Selkirk College. While in past years the robotics training was held exclusively in Nelson at Selkirk College, this year Nelson Tech Club President Brad Pommen developed a series of online training courses, eliminating the need for teams to travel more than 200 km roundtrip weekly to attend. Additionally, GLOWS Program Manager Beth Corven delivered more than 35 Arduino base kits to teams throughout the region in the early weeks of December. As a result, RoboGames 2016 is the largest, most diverse event we have ever attempted to date.

Over 40 teams comprised of 74 youth from across the region will be competing for the title of RoboGames Champions. Teams range from first time novices to veteran competitors. All will have the opportunity to compete in one or more of the following events:

1. Obstacle Course: Robots maneuver an obstacle course as quickly and carefully as possible.

2. Line Following Course: Robots utilize the obstacle course, except that they follow the line from end to end with
speed and accuracy judged.

3. Robot Soccer 1 on 1: A pile of robot soccer balls is located in the center of the obstacle course. Competitors vie
against an opponent to try to grab the most robot soccer balls to their side in two minutes.

4. Special Trick Competition: Competitors program their robot to do their evil, or not so evil, bidding by coming up
with something cool and crazy for their robot to do. Examples are dancing, telling a joke, fetching an object…
competitors are encouraged to use their imagination!

5. Robot Battles: Two robots enter the open arena to compete as gladiators in the ultimate destruction event.

Judges determine the winner based on meaningful hits, overall match polarity and gamesmanship. All teams will be using the official RoboRED Arduino kit provided by RoboGames. This official base kit contains the starting materials which can be supplemented by teams as they progress. Code examples, photos and tutorials are provided online to ensure that all hardware works together and eliminates guess work when hooking it up. Each team decides which components they will use, what they want their robot to do, and what it will look like.

In January, Pommen will travel to up to six locations to provide hands‐on robotics training to mentors and youth, with online training provided to all locations upon demand. The actual competition will take place in the basement of Mary Hall at Selkirk College’s Tenth Street Campus in Nelson.

The goal of GLOWS is to promote science and technology learning among our young community members by making science and technology fun, accessible and non‐intimidating. Ultimately we hope that these youth will incorporate scientific and technical learning into their future education and career choices, enhancing community vitality and sustainability as our region moves into the middle of the 21st Century. Making technical learning less intimidating is a crucial early step toward encouraging the region’s young people to incorporate science and technology in their future learning and career plans, thus increasing the region’s chances of retaining technical talent in the longer term. The Nelson Tech Club is a community organization for technology enthusiasts who gather to share ideas, knowledge, resources and opinions in a friendly and collaborative atmosphere. The NTC firmly puts its money where its mouth is, living by its motto of “Build, Learn, Share.”

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