Robot jocks come to Ventura via school competition

Teams representing middle and high schools across the state competed in the VEX Robotics contest on Saturday, Oct. 27, in Ventura, where custom-built robots flipped, tossed and traversed their way to victory.

Twenty-four teams met at Holy Cross High School in Ventura for the competition, including six from Ventura County. Each team earned points by completing certain tasks in teams of two in a capture-the-flag style setting themed “Turning Point.”

Robots built over the course of the year were specifically designed to complete these tasks with the prime directive to ensure that their team’s specific color, red or blue, represented the majority of the field by game’s end.

For half a minute, robots had to perform tasks via pre-programmed directions, whether to flip plates from red to blue or vice versa, or to throw balls at flags to switch the color. Ventura County Office of Education Coordinator John Tarkany says that the competing students learn a lot from building the robots while having fun as well.

“The competition is the icing on the cake, the real magic is them back at their school site building and constructing robots,” said Tarkany. “They’re learning some pretty valuable skills and having a good time doing it so they don’t feel like they’re learning.”

The VEX Robotics competition is held statewide with winners from local competitions competing at the state championships. At this particular competition, Sherman Oaks-based team Anomaly took the Excellence Award, while Woodland Hills-based ECR 404 and Calabasas-based Patriot Robotics were dubbed Tournament Champions. All three teams qualified for the state competition.

To see a video from the competition, visit www.vcoe.org/competitions/robotics.

Team USA stops in Port Hueneme before Australia bid

Seventy athletes from across the country, half of whom are active duty service members, joined over 500 competitors from 18 nations in October at the 2018 Invictus Games held Oct. 20-27 in Sydney, Australia.

The international adaptive multi-sport event founded by the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, and inspired by the Department of Defense Warrior Games includes wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and indoor rowing, plus eight others.

Team USA trained at the Port Hueneme Navy Base, arriving on Oct. 15, before heading to Australia.

Simi Valley’s SkateLab to close

Bad news for skaters in Simi as SkateLab, the indoor skate lab and museum, will be closing its doors after 21 years, though an exact date is hard to determine.

Launched in 1998 as the go-to destination for skaters countywide and beyond, SkateLab was one of the largest indoor skating parks in the country, featuring ramps and bowls for skaters to kick-flip their way to happiness. When the skating was over, visitors could tour the Skateboarding Hall of Fame and Museum located on the premises.

Owner Scott Radinsky says that the popularity of skating has had its ups and downs.

“I’ve seen things where there were 10 public skate parks in the late ’90s and there are over 700 now,” said Radinsky. “Tony Hawk Pro Skater, how huge was that? I’m not blaming the industry or anything because it’s been great for 40 years, but I’m speaking facts and reality and I can’t sugar coat things.”

Radinsky says that he has been paying to keep the facility open out of his pocket since August and that he “hopes to make it another week” but that there is no timeline for closure.