Year 8 students built and controlled robots during a 'Junkbots' challenge. Firstly they collected items of junk to construct into robots that performed simple tasks. On the second day they programmed Lego robots to respond to commands before finishing off with a presentation session where each team evaluated and summarised their work.
The 24 students who took part were chosen for their aptitude in either maths, science or DT, and it was an opportunity for them to work on an extended project which lasted two days.
Dr Scott Turner, senior lecturer in computing at the University of Northampton led the robot challenge while his colleague, Dr Terry Tudor, spoke about waste management issues, recycling and methods of reducing carbon footprints. The students completed mini-environmental projects before constructing the junk robots. They were supplied with just a battery, motor and propellers and then had to use their collected junk items to build a robot which was capable of moving and performing simple tasks like pushing a tin can into a target area or picking up small pieces of metal.
The following day the teams manoeuvred purpose-built Lego robots around specific areas using Java programming and rounded off the project by giving presentations including photographs and video footage which documented their progress.
Dr Turner said: 'The core skills they learned were teamwork, problem solving and thinking creatively. They asked tough questions from each other as well as from us. The students picked up some quite challenging concepts quickly. About two or three from each group have done the programming while the others have worked on their presentations.'
Year 8 student Mark Smith has made a video of the Junkbots event.