Comox Valley Robotics Meetup - 13/11/2018, 6pm


Calling all Comox Valley Robotocists and supporters! No matter your age, if you’re interested in building robots- for fun, competition, or to get work done- or supporting our robotocists (mentoring, refereeing, volunteering) then please come out to a meet and greet Tuesday November 13th, 6pm at 907 McPhee Ave.

We hope to learn how the wider community can support the amazing achievements of our school district (SD71) in VEX and First, but also meet those interested in participating in events for adults, or other programmes.


  • Robert Pizzicarola, Robotics Specialist - Western Canada, Spectrum Educational Supplies Limited
    Telephone: (800) 668-0600 extn 6059,
  • MakeItZone (Courtenay): Julian, Bruce, Tristan, Randy, Griffin, Vivian, Paul, Stewart
  • Oceanside Makerspace (Parksville): Jim, John, Norbert, and several more members

Session Notes

Robert (Spectrum Educational Supplied Ltd)

  • see Roberts Slides
  • interested in helping groups find options, events to become involved with, communicating between groups
  • seeing growth in FLL in BC
    • Very Island focused; tournament is in Victoria
    • starting to look at having events on the mainland
  • please do include Robert in future conversations


  • Robert: info for grade 3/4 teachers in Port Alberni -> Jim @ Oceanside
  • Julian: list of some other leagues -> list of leagues and events

Oceanside Makerspace

  • original grant funding is as a seniors group, but plans always included involving younger people
  • hosting FLL league 12 week program, from JunioTech (Alberta)
  • looking for some less expensive options

MakeItZone (Courtenay)

  • Will be running several after school programs for kids, including Lego EV3 - using CMU and Lego curriculum, BBC µBit, TinkerCAD & InkScape for 3D printing & Laser cutting, … curriculum to be published soon
  • curious about FLL; depending on community interest, not against organizing a team for the 2019 season
  • also wanting to run drop in sessions and events to build community and awareness- not just for kids, but adults too
  • wondering about what leagues/challenges are happening in BC, especially lower cost, options. Quite interested in PiWars, Robocup Jnr, and FLL.

At this point we called the the video conference to a close and continued with local conversations.

MakeItZone’s Local Conversation


School District

Very, very roughly- school district invests in technologies and tools- eg approx 100+ Lego NXT kits- and makes them available to teachers. Teachers choose what they use in their implementation of the curriculum. There are some after school clubs run by volunteer teachers. They have a pool of graduates that they can (and do) ask to ref/mentor/volunteer at eg Vex events.

Aside from Julian- PACs can apply for BC lottery funding. Basically this funding can only be used for extra-curricular activities. E.g. robotics kits, computers for programming clubs, possibly: tutors/mentors/program providers for after school/extra curricular events

Possible MakeItZone Events Suggested by Attendees
  • interest in encouraging scavenged design/reuse. Let’s organize some Toy Hack Events! Some volunteers identified and Julian will contact them.
  • Longer term: modding unwanted electric scooters -> electric go-karts!

Possible MakeItZone events for Adults

  • discussed two broad categories of people interested in robotics- those wanting to work on big (long, complex) projects, and those looking for something “contained”
  • Two ideas came up, seem like good starting points:
    • “contained”: GBCs (Great Ball Challenges)
      • ball/marble machine “modules”- with standard “in-coming” and “out-going” heights
      • but not Lego specific; let’s make it open ended; any implementation- laser cut wood, 3D printing, origami, Lego, …
      • would be a great thing to take to events- eg Farmer’s market, CovaCon, Business events, … eye catching, lots of opportunities to be innovative, great conversation starter, etc
      • Started notes and ideas here. Some potentially interested people identified; Julian will start emails rolling
    • “big project”: something related to Search and Rescue, which could branch out into communications (LoraWAN), prosthetics, physical augmentation, …
      • due to local interest and enthusiasm in the new fixed wing search and rescue training centre- news article- and interest in all the interesting opportunities for sensors, motion control, AI processing, search and rescue scenarios cover.
      • will reach out to network and see if we can start some conversations with the training centre- eg to get some ideas for scenarios needing innovation