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Students make it through to national finals of robotics competition

A team of Year 9 students are celebrating after qualifying for the national finals of the 2023 First Tech Challenge, which centres around the development of an operational robot.

First Tech Challenge is the world’s largest robotic competition and aims to make science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects less intimidating and more inclusive. The competition invites young innovators to design and create a robot that can lift small cones and place them on poles positioned at different heights. Robots are expected to have an autonomous function with students adding coding, so it will automatically perform a variety of tasks.

Since October last year, Abbi Kerr, Megan Kirk, George Forth, Dylan Scott, Alfie Cole, and Billy Redfern-Webb have been adapting a robot for the competition. They developed a grabber that extends to three different heights, and sensors that read clues placed on the cones – the sensors provide instructions to the robot about expected paths to follow.

During the recent regional event, which took place at RAF Cosford near Wolverhampton, our team competed in matches against 23 school teams, and devised a strategy to complete as many point scoring tasks as possible.

As they finished in the top 10 schools, our team has qualified for the national finals where they will compete against schools from across the country. The finals take place at Cambridge University on Friday 23rd June.

Gareth Evans is one of the Bishop Perowne CE College members of staff who have been working with the students. Gareth commented:

“These types of competitions enable students to bring what they learnt in classroom lessons to life and inspires interests through the study of STEM subjects.

“The team has worked extremely hard to develop their robot by documenting their preparations to help improve its knowledge, self-drive operation, and the coding so the robot can work

autonomously. We’re all extremely proud of them and delighted they have made it to the national finals. A special thanks must go to Mark Clare, a robot expert and Design & Technology Technician at Bishop Perowne, who has been mentoring and advising the team.

“The students will now focus on improving their robotics skills, by adding more coding to help them achieve points during the autonomous phase of each match, as well as testing and developing the effectiveness and their understanding of sensors to help give their robot a bigger ‘brain’!”

Good luck to the team!

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