History of the Innokas programming and robotics tournament
National Innokas programming and robotics tournaments have been held since 2003 in cooperation with the Innokas network and partners. The first robotics tournaments were relatively small events, held in school gymnasiums. With the growth of the Innokas network’s operations, the tournaments have grown to an impressive size on a Finnish scale. Roughly 20,000 visitors have participated in the tournaments in the last five years. Illustratively, contestants in tournaments want to participate again the following year, and develop their competitive robot or performance to be more creative, functional, or competitive.
The national tournament location held in the spring has been changed yearly. This was done in hopes that the event would attract new actors to join from various areas. That goal has been reached, because the need to organize regional tournaments to thin the number of contestants for the national tournament arose from the increase in activities. Regional tournaments have been held in a couple of places for several years now, like Lohja and Oulu. The regional tournaments were introduced more broadly in spring 2020, although then the majority of those events had to be canceled because of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Over the years, the coordinators and instructors of the Innokas network have developed the competition events in the tournaments to support learning 21st century skills, Finnish curricula, and club activities. The activities mirror programming and robotics tournaments around the world (for example, RoboCup Junior, First Lego League, Vex). What makes the Innokas tournament distinctive is the extent to which it supports the learning of 21st century skills, the broad spectrum of the technology and programming devices that can be used, and, above all, that the threshold for participating in the tournaments is very low. The information gleaned from the competitive events can also be used directly in school for studies in programming, robotics, and innovation skills, even without participating in the competitions. For many years, the Innokas tournament has also been a demonstration arena for other events (for example, First Lego League and Vex).
The tournament concept is constantly being developed. A good example of this is the game design and development event Game Dev, which was piloted in the 2019 tournament, and launched for the first time in the 2020 tournament as an event open to everyone. Another goal is to expand the tournament concept in stages to the secondary level, while taking into account the distinctive character of Finnish education.
The 2021 tournament was held remotely. Participants sent in their competition entries for evaluation to the head judges as videos, diaries or digital games depending on the event in question. The winners were rewarded during a virtual happening in May in which over a thousand students took part.
See all the tournament winners here.
The 2020 tournament had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who had already prepared their own competition entries had the opportunity to share their projects by partaking in a challenge. The winning entries are presented in our blog: https://luovuusjainnovatiivisuus.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/innokas2020-haastekisan-voittajat-esittaytyy/
The 2019 tournament was organized in the city of Lappeenranta where a record of 700 students took part in the events. For the first time the tournament included the GameDev -gamedevelopment event. VEX and FLL were showcased in the tournament.
See all the tournament winners here.