13 Mar 2019

On Wednesday the 27th February, 10 pupils from years 8 and 9 spent the day at Preston’s College competing against other schools in the local area in the ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers Robotics Competition.’ After weeks of hard work, the team (with the help of mentors who competed in last year’s competition) created Dora - the challenge robot, and Shreck - the speed robot. The robots had been created with the Lego Mindstorms kits, which contained a central EVE block and other pieces of strangely shaped Lego. As a team, we spent hours constructing the physical body of our robots, discovering a range of aggravating problems along the way, and used a code specifically designed for the robots to program their movement across a large mat, which was the host of many challenges that we faced on the day of the competition.

At Preston’s College, we were presented with; two challenge mats, where we would be given scores on our performance of each challenge we attempted and a straight 4-metre track for our speed robot, a teamwork challenge which we would complete later in the day. We had also prepared a presentation based on research in a particular area of science and technology and a ‘robot showcase’, where we were asked to show and explain our robots. We began with the challenge mat. Here, our robot demonstrated many technical problems, but we were relieved to discover that this was only our first attempt at the challenges. Later in the day, after thoroughly examining each individual block of code and fiddly component, we competed on the challenge mat for a second time. We attempted most and the challenges and were relieved to see a significant improvement in Dora’s performance.

The team were then asked to present their research to an audience, something they were all very nervous about. Whilst the mentors could not attend the presentation, the team were congratulated on their fantastic presentation skills and delivery of their research into prosthetic limbs and how this can aid thousands of people. Accompanied with props and a short video created by members of the team, they completed this task to the highest of their ability.

Following this, we were then given a mystery teamwork challenge. Whilst it sounded simple, to use only 5 pieces of paper and 20cm of tape to keep a bottle of water in the air, the challenge proved very difficult. However, our ‘out of the box thinking’ resulted in the water leaving the bottle and “disappearing”. We were congratulated on our idea. We then used the time we had left to create triangular prisms, with the paper, to keep the bottle as high up as possible.

Finally, we competed in the speed challenge. With a light vehicle, near perfect code and the help of well-experienced mentors, Shreck sped down the 4-metre track in an outstanding 2.1 seconds! After seeing other schools holding the top spot on the leader board, it was a fantastic feeling for Archbishop Temple to steal their place. We were later awarded a trophy and certificate for our achievement.

Whilst we all felt that we had tried our best, we still felt as though we had fallen short of enough points needed to proceed to the national competition. So, when our name was called in second place, we did not hesitate to cheer. We are all overjoyed to discover that we will be representing the school in the UK Finals of the Tomorrow’s Engineers EEP Robotics Challenge and cannot wait to compete for a second time!

Millie, year 9

ATS Engineers will go head to head with teams from across the country at The Big Bang Fair on Friday 15 March 2019.