Meriden’s young technology buffs were recognised for their coding and engineering prowess in the 2022 RoboCup Junior Challenges, receiving second and third placings and a Highly Commended Award. The series of robotics challenges attract thousands of students from around Australia.
In the Primary Rescue category of the NSW RoboCup Competition, students were challenged to design, build and program robots that could complete an unseen maze while avoiding obstacles along the way.
Meriden’s Year 6 team of Amala Thillainadesan, Katherine Kljajic and Victoria Lyu placed second, and the Year 5 team of Amelia Wong, Lucinda Buckley and Isabella Lu placed third in the competition.
“Being part of the team is lots of fun because we love working on the design and code and when we find our way around a challenge, we celebrate together,” explained Amelia.
After two years of virtual competitions, the girls said it was exciting to compete at an in-person event. “When we heard that we had got to the final of the competition, were all jumping around with joy and excitement,” Amelia said.
In the Junior School STEM Lab, students learn how to build and code robots which they can then enter into RoboCup Junior Competitions.
“Coding is not all just staring at a computer screen and making your eyes sore. We listen to each other’s opinions and we take turns doing different things, coding, testing, and designing,” explains Amelia. “Our STEM teacher, Mrs Betbeder, always encourages us to have fun rather than worry about the problems.”
“I found that it is really important to enjoy the work and be proud of the challenges we overcame together,” Amelia said.
Students can choose between five RoboCup Challenges which include Prime (designing); OnStage (robots are part of a staged performance); Rescue (robots negotiate a maze obstacle course) and Soccer.
The team of Amala, Katherine and Victoria, also picked up a Highly Commended Award in the National Spike PRIME Challenge which took place earlier in the year.
In this challenge, students were asked to design and program a robot that addressed the theme of “Journeys”. The girls chose the children’s picture book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, as their inspiration. Using colour sensors and voice recordings, they custom-built their robot to act out the story, moving past obstacles until it found the “bear”.
“RoboCup is a team effort and it has definitely improved my coding and engineering skills,” said Amala. “I understand different codes and variables now and have learnt how to build better robots that perform better in competitions.”