School robot competition 2020 winners announced

10th February 2021
Alex Lynn

The EPSRC UK-RAS Network and the educational publisher Twinkl, have announced the winners of the School Robot Competition 2020, an annual robot design challenge for groups of school students aged eight to 14 years old.

The competition asked schools to create digital robots that could undertake a range of challenges on the surface of Mars. The overall winners are team ‘Aspiration’ from St Bernard’s Catholic Grammar in Slough, Berkshire, whose AR robot completed multiple challenges on the surface of Mars, scooping the fantastic top-spot prize of a MiRo-E programmable robot – courtesy of Consequential Robotics – plus 3D prints of their outstanding robot design, contributed by the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

This year’s space-themed competition attracted a record number of entries, with the entry deadline specially extended into the Autumn term to ensure as many students as possible had the opportunity to take part after the school closures in March last year. The judging panel – including UK-RAS Network experts Dr Jordan Boyle, Mr Peter Brewer, Professor James Marshall and Dr Richard Gillham Darnley – had the exceptionally tough task of whittling down this year’s bumper crop of space explorer robot designs.

The additional Judge’s Choice prizes – awarded by the competition sponsors – are:

  • National Centre for Nuclear Robotics (NCNR) Choice: Team ‘OM2020’ from Bede’s Prep School in East Sussex for the Terrain Challenge – winning two LEGO EV3 systems and a tour of the NCNR facility & robot masterclass.
  • Brains on Board Choice: Team ‘AC2020’ from Bede’s Prep School in East Sussex for the Parking Challenge – winning a Littlebits Space Rover Inventor Kit.
  • RAIN – Robotics and AI in Nuclear Research Hub Choice: Team ‘6GL’ from Radstock Primary School in Berkshire for the Drilling Challenge – winning a LEGO EV3, LEGO League competition materials, and Online Creative Hut Workshop.
  • FAIR-SPACE (Future Artificial Intelligence and Robotics for Space Hub) Choice: Teesside High School in Stockton-on-Tees for the Terrain Challenge – winning a LEGO EV3.
  • Pipebots Choice: Teesside High School in Stockton-on-Tees for the Terrain Challenge – winning a MakeBlock mBot Ranger 3-in-1.

This year’s School Robot Competition from the EPSRC UK Robotics & Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network and the educational publisher, Twinkl, invited school groups to design a space explorer robot in teams of three to five students. The challenge involved creating a virtual robot – online or via a specially-created augmented reality app designed by Twinkl – that could move across the challenging surface of Mars and complete a range of tasks.

This educational game harnessed the latest augmented reality (AR) technology to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning objectives, and the competition was fully aligned to the STEM English National curriculum – aimed at helping school children to boost their team-building, science and coding skills while learning about the exciting and fascinating world of space robotics.

Commenting on the success of this year’s competition, Professor Robert Richardson, Chair of the EPSRC UK-RAS Network said: "Our entire team has been incredibly impressed by the fantastic designs we received from teams up and down the country, which demonstrated real skill, vision and innovation. Our huge congratulations to the winners, and to every team who submitted entries and engaged so creatively with this activity. We’re very much looking forward to launching another fresh and unique robotics design challenge for schools in 2021.”

Jonathan Seaton, CEO and Co-founder of Twinkl, added: “We have been completely blown away by the entries we received as part of this year's competition. I would like to offer a huge congratulations to the winners, and also recognise all of the participants for their incredible entries! At Twinkl, we're always trying to find new and innovative ways for children to explore STEM so it is very exciting to see such wonderful creations be brought to life through our app. We hope that the competition has inspired children to further explore the world of robotics and will encourage them to pursue STEM subjects in the future. Once again, a massive well done to everybody involved."

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