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Back to School Challenge: Can Your Class Master Mars?

We are today inviting school groups aged 8-14 years to submit their unique designs for a robot that can explore exciting space terrains. The School Robot Competition 2020 is open for entries now. The deadline has been specially extended this year to Friday 23rd October 2020, to ensure that Year 4 to Year 9 classes returning to school for the first time following the pandemic lockdown can enjoy the opportunity to take part.

The School Robot Competition – part of our annual UK Robotics Week programme – invites school groups to design a space explorer robot in teams of 3–5 students. The network has partnered with the online educational publisher Twinkl to host the competition, which invites groups to create a virtual robot that can move across the challenging surface of Mars and complete a range of tasks.

Classes can enter using the free Twinkl Robotics augmented reality app (available for download on the competition web page or from the Apple App Store and Google Play), or groups can design, test, and submit their robot online. The unique educational game uses the latest augmented reality (AR) technology to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning objectives, making use of programmable features. The competition is fully aligned to the STEM English national curriculum and is aimed at helping school children to boost their team-building, science and coding skills while learning about the exciting and fascinating world of robotics.

The superb prize package on offer for the overall winner includes a MiRo-E Robot (provided by Consequential Robotics) and a 3D-printed model of their design (contributed by the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre). Additional Judge’s Choice prizes include:

  • A MakeBlock mBot Ranger 3-in-1 for each member of the team (contributed by Pipebots)
  • A Littlebits Space Rover Inventor Kit for each member of the team (contributed by Brains-on-Board)
  • A Lego Mindstorms robotics kit and software for your class (contributed by FAIR-SPACE)
  • A Robotics and AI masterclass and tour of 1000sm Extreme Robotics Lab for your class, plus 2 EV3 Robot Systems (contributed by the National Centre for Nuclear Robotics)
  • A Lego EV3 education kit and mat with challenges from this year’s Lego League competition (contributed by the Robotics and AI in Nuclear Hub)

Professor Robert Richardson, Chair of the EPSRC UK-RAS Network said: “Following the challenges all school communities have faced over the past few months with adapting to home and remote learning during the lockdown, we were really keen to extend the deadline for this year’s School Robot Competition to give as many students as possible the opportunity to engage with this fantastic activity. The breadth and sheer creativity of the ideas students generate for this competition is always hugely inspiring, and we’re very much looking forward to seeing what innovative designs our entrants come up with for this year’s space-themed task.”

Jonathan Seaton, Co-founder and CEO of Twinkl, said: “We hope that teachers and pupils will enjoy putting their robots together and testing them out on the virtual landscape of Mars! The activity is a great way for children to bring together all elements of STEM to overcome challenges and find solutions, whilst engaging with the exciting world of robotics. We look forward to seeing the robots that are created this year.”