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Hampshire schools go head to head in Robolympics

17 October 2012

The ‘Robolympics’ - a competition devised to encourage young people into STEM subjects - was held recently and for a second year at QinetiQ’s headquarters in Farnborough.

The two invited schools, Calthorpe Park School and Court Moor School from Fleet were invited to send 10 children each (aged 11- 16) to take part in the day, themed around the Winter Olympics.

A team of volunteers from QinetiQ, supported by students from the “Grey Matter Robotics” club in Camberley ran the day, as well as judging the three ‘Robolympic’ events during the day. All the competing robots were constructed from LEGO Mindstorms NXT kits.

With only one hour for each event, the pressure was on to work as a team to design, build, program and test as many of their ideas as they could before entering their most successful designs in the competition. Each competition was very close. The standard of engineering, programming and the range of different solutions tried was impressive.

The overall winners were the students from Court Moor School, who won the Speed Skating and Ski Jump events, with Calthorpe Park students winning the Cross Country Skiing Relay race. A third team comprising teachers from both schools made a valiant effort but couldn’t match the performance or reliability of the students’ robots – they clearly need to spend more time playing with LEGO! Michael Thompson, project engineer from QinetiQ, and STEM Outreach ambassador, said:

"Enthusiasm is essential in assisting the youngsters achieve their goals. We specifically asked these two schools to enter as QinetiQ helped establish their robotics clubs in response to the students’ enthusiasm and talent for the subject and teachers’ commitment to keep it going. Holding such an event allows them to unleash their imagination and design capabilities whilst racing against the clock and an opposing team in a friendly environment. It provides a sound basis for larger robotics competitions such as the international FIRST LEGO League events.

"Robotics is an essential offering from QinetiQ, and our Talon and Ghost robots have been in action in both military and civilian environments, whether clearing improvised explosive devices, or assisting the emergency services during severe fires. This was play with a practical outcome.”

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