Robotics Engineers win Northern robot ruckus

Birches Head Academy robotics engineers won two top awards when over 500 of the North’s best young brains did battle with roving robots.

The Birches Head Brains Trust won First Tech’s Think Award for Design and were second in the Aspire Award for Creativity in the Rover Ruckus schools’ challenge at Manchester Airport.The budding boffins had been preparing since December for the Northern Finals in which 500 young engineers form 55 top schools across the region, design, build and operate their own robots.

The task was to build a robot that could pick up different shaped balls, blocks and their own school mascot from the arena and place them in a container in the centre of the ring in as fast a time as possible.

As Birches Head Design and Technology teacher Dan Lambert said: “They needed to master some sophisticated programming skills, use their mechanical and engineering intelligence and then be able to operate the vehicle to perform some complex, challenging tasks.” He added: “I knew we had every chance because we have some very bright and capable young people who collaborated well as a team, but when I saw some of the other robots from top schools across the region, I just had to keep my fingers crossed.”

The children, however, always kept the faith. Taylor, 14, said: “it required programming, design and build skills and all the creative thinking and problem solution that we could muster, but we all love that sort of stuff.”

The pupils know they are at the start of a revolution that will change the world as they become adults.

Levi, 12, said: “The best-case scenario is that inventions will enhance life and make things easier especially for older people, but the worst-case scenario is that all turns out to be like a Terminator film and we’ve all gone to hell and back.” Caitlin agreed: “We can be a little melodramatic, but I hope robots don’t take over, destroy all the animals, all the trees and take everyone’s jobs. We’ve got to make sure we use robots so that everyone can benefit.”

Birches Head Academy Headteacher Miss Dixon said: “We are educating children to tackle challenges that don’t even exist yet, so there has to be an emphasis on hands on problem solution and creativity.”

“As you can see, these children are fully aware of all the pitfalls and perils ahead, but I know they have the compassion and common sense to make the best use of everything that technological advance will offer.”

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