Teacher Rod Paananen watches as Anthony Gutierrez, right, runs a Vex robot through the minesweeper challenge during lunch at Claremont secondary on Wednesday. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Claremont launches lunchtime robot club

After months of assembling their designs the Claremont Vex robot club held the first of their lunch time competitions this week.

Using a converted Claremont classroom, students ran their robots through the minesweeper challenge, picking up balls and then dropping them into baskets for points. The Vex robots come as a kit that the students learn about and spend months assembling, with the goal of fulfilling a specific challenge (in this case, the minesweeper challenge).

About 30 kids joined the Claremont robot club with a goal to continue training and one day compete against other schools.

“This is all done on our lunch hours, and after school, and I really like this sort of thing, so I was interested as soon as I heard about it,” said Grade 10 student Anthony Gutierrez. “This is something I can put on my resumé.”

There are a few Vex robots in other high schools, though not many. A basic kit costs around $600. Claremont has managed to collect eight sets, though they have to share the cortex motors, which means only four compete at once.

The key with Claremont isn’t just the robots but the dedicated space to store them and have their own ‘arena,’ said teacher and club organizer Rodney Paananen.

“We had a team go up-Island this year to compete, they were 40th out of 45, but we’re new,” Paananen said. “We’re all learning, and our Grade 9 and 10 members have lots of time to learn.”

The Vex apparatus are designed to use pre-programmed motors (the students don’t have to learn any software programming), which is a challenge in itself. The motors are operated through what looks like a video game controller.

reporter@saanichnews.com

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