Ingenious

20 October 2014

Suffolk children programme their way to success at international robot competition

Girls from year six at St Christopher’s school, Red Lodge in Suffolk

You’ve heard of RoboCop, well now there’s RoboCup.

RoboCup is a competition challenging students and researchers to build a team of autonomous robots which can perform human tasks effectively, such as search and rescue and playing football.

Teams of adults and youngster from across the globe descended on Joao Pessoa in Brazil during July to showcase their work with robots and artificial intelligence at the event.

Silver and bronze

Two Suffolk primary schools got the taste of success at the RoboCup Junior 2014 competition – the youth version of the international RoboCup contest.

An all-girl line up from year six at St Christopher’s school, Red Lodge in Suffolk, created the teams that scooped second and third place - narrowly missing out on first place which was awarded to a team from China. To add to their trophy haul, St Christopher’s were also crowned international super team world champions. Holbrook primary school from the same county claimed fourth place in the contest.

The Suffolk teams were both finalists in a UK national championship which took place at BT’s Adastral Park earlier in the year. “They showed a tremendous amount of flair, so it’s not surprising to see them do so well in the competition.” said Jonathan Legh-Smith, BT Technology, Service & Operations.

Impact of computing skills

The junior element of RoboCup is one of many leagues in the competition and CoSpace is part of this. The young teams demonstrated their computer programming skills by challenging their robots to search for coloured items spread across a virtual field, dropping them off and collecting them whilst avoiding hazards.

The Suffolk victories in the junior league demonstrates how school computing schemes are having a real impact on children’s learning and lives.

Pleased with the school’s win, Andrew Severy, ICT coordinator at St Christopher’s, said: “We are thrilled that the children have done so well in this competition – to compete successfully at international level is no mean feat. Their success is an acknowledgement of the hard work and perseverance they have all shown and is thoroughly deserved.”

Available for all

CoSpace, which has been brought to the UK by BT, promotes the importance of learning computing skills and inspires more young people to take up careers in the IT sector. Children don’t need to have previous programming experience to take part in CoSpace, the friendly, graphics-based interface makes it fun and interesting for complete novices. CoSpace software is free to download for use by children at home or school.

Computing skills are often key to innovative practices and projects which is why BT is positively and actively involved in programmes like CoSpace.

The CoSpace competition is one of a number of computing-related initiatives supported by BT volunteers. It runs alongside the Barefoot Computing project (brainchild of Department for Education, BCS, Computing at School and BT) which works with primary school teachers across England to get more out of the new computing curriculum.