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CHAMPS Charter School in Van Nuys clinches VEX world championship

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In a three-day competition pitting more than 700 schools against one another in a head-to-head battle of custom-built robots, CHAMPS Charter School of the Arts in Van Nuys came out on top, clinching the VEX Robotics High School World Championship.

CHAMPS' students, or the SPUR-FLYS, competed at the Anaheim Convention Center last weekend. They shared the win with two high schools that students worked with in the final round: Chingboticz Eh? from Ontario, Canada, and the Lynfield College Robotics from Auckland, New Zealand. 

Together, the three-school team came out on top against more than 15,000 participants across the nation and 27 countries. The competition tests teams' skills on maneuvering their robots in a series of game-like playing fields where points are earned by moving pieces to targets.

The SPUR-FLYS -- a name combining the robot's speed and the word "butterfly" -- are Antonio Zaragoza, Edo Eckshtein, Shawn Dayan, Max Farr, Shae Souter-Willett, Aaron Lucas, Jet Ladomade, Rachel Grossberg, Daniel Kaitel, Sam Alberon, Eden Florentin, Eva Hall, Aristotle Klima and Ian Garcia. Physics teacher Luminita Denisiu was this year's coach. 

[For the record, 9:09 p.m. PDT, May 2, 2014: A previous version of this post left off the name of team member Aristotle Klima.]

CHAMPS previously won the high school championship in 2009. The SPUR-FLYS are current back-to-back state champions. Principal Linda Pierce attributed the team's success to the school's STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering Arts and Math) approach in which students can choose an academy of learning, focusing on those skills. 

"That's what makes our program unique and successful," Pierce said. "The students in our robotics program have demonstrated their skills. It's a great win." 

The Robotics Education and Competition Foundation presented this year's competition, pulling in students from schools similar to CHAMPS. VEX Robotics is a well-known provider of educational and competitive robotics products to schools around the world. 

In addition to CHAMPS' win, Team Mighty Mechs from Anaheim earned the VEX IQ Challenge Elementary School title with a team from Kokomo, Ind. 

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