In October 2017, Holgate Robotics Club had our first ever meeting. We were lucky enough to win two Lego Mindstorm kits with the aim of entering a regional, and hopefully national, competition in March 2018. The students were excited to get going, building a basic robot to race over a short distance. In the coming weeks, we would add sensors (colour, touch and gyro) to enhance our robots, work on gears to maximise the speed and hone our presentation skills. There were two challenges and two presentations to prepare for. The first was a speed challenge, a drag race over four metres. The second mat challenge involved gathering engines for a plane, collecting humanitarian aid to take on the flight and getting the engineer to the plane ready for take-off. Our robot then had to climb a steep ramp for bonus points. The codes were incredibly complex and took us several weeks and several meetings, but two days before competition, we were just about ready. Then came the snow.

Sadly, our trip to Rolls Royce was cancelled because of the poor weather. This meant we had to complete the challenges in school and submit our scores to Tomorrow’s Engineers to see if we would make the national finals. First up was the speed challenge. We had three attempts, the first a respectable 6.23 seconds for the 4 metre track. Ruben led the way with adjustments to the steering to help keep the robot sturdy and straight. By the third attempt we’d shaved more than a second off the time! Katherine and Luca took the stage for our project presentation, with all students ably supporting by answering the questions thrown their way. Our students were incredibly articulate, answering questions about both the project and their robot designs with great pride and confidence. Everyone was keen to talk about their experience of the five month project and is desperate for us to enter again next year!

Finally, it was on to the mat challenge. The list of tasks was extensive and the codes written even more so. We were allowed two attempts. The first was a bit wobbly. The robot didn’t quite follow the track as hoped and the humanitarian aid packages were lost en route to the plane! The second attempt was much smoother, with all engines gathered and the aid packages making it to the loading bay. The ramp was conquered and we’ve submitted our scores. Fingers crossed we make it through to the finals!