Calgary

Robot competition aims to make STEM learning fun

Some high school kids play sports, some love drama, while others opt for band. Others, however, have spent the last six weeks designing and building robots for competition.

Teams from as far as Australia are putting their creations to the test at Calgary's Olympic Oval

First Robotics competition in Calgary

5 years ago
1:02
Students gathered at the Olympic Oval in Calgary along with their robots for the First Robotics competition. 1:02

Some high school kids play sports, some love drama, while others opt for band. Others, however, have spent the last six weeks designing and building robots for competition. 

Teams of students from as far as Australia descended on the Olympic Oval for the First Robotics competition in order to show off their creations and square off in a game where teams have to capture their opponents castles by breaking through defences and shooting balls into targets. 

"During those six weeks the teams are building the robots, so they go through the design process, the fabrication process, the building process," said Sue Stevenson Brown, executive director of First Robotics Western Canada.

She said it's more than just robotics.

"Behind the scenes, you've got the teams, the business team, you've got the media team. The team members themselves are actually doing the fund development to raise money and sponsors for the robot," she said. 

Competitors look on as robots go head-to-head at the First Robotics event at the Olympic Oval on Tuesday. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

STEM 

The competition aims to make learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fun. 

It's working for George Smith from Ernest Manning High School in Calgary, whose team's robot was designed to be particularly good at breaking through defences. 

"You make lots of friends doing this and also you learn lots of skills. It's really just fun and it's a big rush. It's like sports but with robots," he said. 

The students are also paired with industry mentors, and will themselves mentor younger students. 

"Mentors teaching mentors teaching mentors, so it's a fantastic learning opportunity for everyone," said Brown.

Robots on the field at the Olympic Oval, prepared to fight to steal each other's castles. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

With files from Monty Kruger

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