Local pupils put their robot designs to the test

Teams of pupils from across the South West will be entering robots they have built in class into the 'Smart Move' international robotics contest, in Bristol on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 November.

The regional event is organised by the University of Bath and schools competing from Bath include: Newbridge, Widcombe, Culverhay, Hayesfield Technology College, Oldfield and Beechen Cliff. 

The pupils, aged nine to 16, have designed and built their robots from Lego and will compete on the day to make their machines carry out missions on special 'challenge mats' that will require the robots to pick up and move objects, flick switches and other mechanical processes.

The teams must accumulate as many points as they can on the mats, and will continue tweaking their designs on the day to try and get the winning edge in special 'pit' areas, aiming for the prestigious prize of Champion's Award.

They must also give a creative and entertaining presentation providing a solution to a problem they have identified under the theme of the event: 'Smart Move', looking at transporting people and data.

Fifty schools are entering the South West round over the two days, and a further 16 will compete in Dorset on 3 December. Five winning teams will go forward to national finals early next year, and from there to European finals in Turkey.

Jim Cumpson, Extended Services Coordinator at Newbridge Primary who is taking the Year 6 team to Bristol, said: "What's great about this competition is that the children are working together in a team. They've come up with some good ideas about transport issues in Bath and they really have something to say on the subject. It's giving them the chance to develop their problem-solving skills and to think independently. They've been putting in extra hours after school to prepare for the competition and they're really excited about it."

Schools have worked on the projects for the past ten weeks and the young people have interviewed local authorities, school govenors, parents and other children in preparing research for their presentation.

Event organiser John Trickett of Wessex SETPOINT, in the University's Department of Mechanical Engineering, said: "This event celebrates the achievement of those young people who will become the scientists and engineers of the future. The teams have worked very hard to design, build and program a robot and to prepare a dynamic presentation on the issue of transportation. The day itself is great fun and the pupils come away with a real sense of achievement."

The event is hosted at the HP laboratories in Filton, and sponsored by the South West Regional Development Agency. Judges at the event are drawn from local companies and higher education, including Rollys Royce and SS Great Britain.

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