Students from Chute Lake Elementary watch robots battle as part of the annual Sumo Bots tournament, held Wednesday at Hollywood Road Education Centre. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Battle bots: Kelowna students learn to code through combating robots

The fourth annual Sumo Bots tournament for Central Okanagan students was held Wednesday

With the skidding of tires, one Lego robot knocks another out of the stadium.

It’s the fourth year for the annual Sumo Bots championships, held Wednesday at Hollywood Road Education Centre. The robots, designed by Central Okanagan students, battled in sumo-like stadiums with the goal of knocking each other out of the rink.

Cooper Corbett, 11, along with his teammates from Anne McClymont Elementary, designed a robot that looked like a blue monster.

This is his second time competing in the tournament and this year he created almost from scratch.

Using a box to cover the mechanical parts, the goal was to make it spin in a circle, similar to the one he created last year, he said.

“It was really fun (last year) so I decided to do it again,” Corbett said. “We’re not done it yet, we’re still working on it.”

READ MORE: Sumo bots battle

Murray Chalmers, with Central Okanagan Public Schools, said the competition has been growing with 92 robots and more than 200 Grade 4 to 9 students participating from Peachland to Oyama.

“One of the mandates from the Ministry of Education is that they want kids to be exposed to coding and programming and this is a great tool to use because they actually have to program their own robots and use coding to make them move,” he said. “If they don’t code them properly, they won’t see the robot, they won’t see the edge of the table so they’ll fall off.”

Chalmers said the program is part of the B.C. curriculum, but the robot owners are part of clubs and classes that have an interest.

“It can be done at any age group and you see some of the robots out there are a little more sophisticated than others, that’s probably because the kids are older, or they’ve been here for a few years. Some of the students this year have very complicated robots,” Chalmers said.

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