Leadership through robotics
Walk past the computer lab on a morning or afternoon and you'll hear loud cheering and clapping. Excited students hurry in - or burst out of - the classroom armed with Lego in hand, deep in discussion and planning their next tactic.
The energy inside the room builds as teams go head to head. One team is victorious, arms are in the air, holding their robot with pride. The celebrations are loud. Commiserations are passed to the other team as they quickly scurry away to problem-solve ready for their next attack. They're determined to try again and win the next round.
CCGS students are signing up to the Robotics club in fast-growing numbers to pit their design and programming skills against each other and, regional and national schools.
And, it is easy to see why! Camaraderie, fun, teamwork, connection, problem-solving and more. It's exciting. It's noisy!
But best of all these younger students are having an incredible time and it's all facilitated by a team of students in Year 11 - Ben, Cody, Jacob and Logan.
Leading the way
The Robotics club, for students in Years 5 to 11, has been running for eight years at CCGS and it is gaining increasing popularity. Students integrate Mathematics, Science and Engineering as they work collaboratively to build Lego robots that engage in a series of challenges.
With support from teaching staff, Year 11 has an opportunity to harness their own leadership skills. They are also brilliant at encouraging younger members of the club to be creative and have fun.
“I have been involved in Robotics since Year 5 and it is awesome! This year, with the other Year 11 student leaders, we decided to invent our very own CCGS Robot Wars called BattleBots. We developed a set of rules linked to the build, the battle and the scoring. The BattleBots challenge is so much fun but a lot happens behind the scenes before we even get to the battle stage,” said Logan, Year 11.
Creative and critical thinking
Creativity is an important part of the Robotics club. Students design and then build their robot using Lego Ev3 Mindstorm Kits. The Mindstorm app is then used to control the robot on the battlefield.
The design of each BattleBot is critical and this often creates many questions for our Year 11 leaders to help answer.
"Students are always encouraged to think outside the box. All ideas are good ideas. Trial and error is a big part of learning and we're here to give tips, tricks and all our experience and knowledge, " added Jacob, Year 11.
That said, knowledge works both ways. The older students are also learning new things, especially when there is a brainstorming meeting. Someone will always put a spin on a design that they hadn’t thought of.
"We're blown away with some of the ideas and concepts. The kids will often come up with solutions we haven't even thought of," added Logan.
BattleBots provides a unique opportunity for students to reflect and seek to continually improve their design for next time. There is always something to learn.
Logan said, "At the end of each battle we ask, 'What would you change about your robot for next the battle?'. The younger students are keen to get our advice and ideas and we all give each other constructive feedback."
The RoboCup competition is an external competition that differs from the BattleBots battlefield. In BattleBots, students design, build, drive and compete. In RoboCup, students put their coding skills to the test against other schools.
Students step through tutorials to learn basic programming of a light sensor, motors and a touch sensor with plenty of room for design and innovation. They program their robot to follow a course using a set of coding instructions. Any wrong code and it could send the robot in an entirely different direction, costing them the game.
The teams are gearing up for the next RoboCup Junior Australia Challenge for the Hunter Region and Central Coast in August 2022.
Teamwork is an integral part of the Robotics Club with a collaboration of ideas and knowledge, it is an important step in learning how to communicate and how to give and receive constructive feedback.
Top robot tips
Designing robots to prepare for battle can be tricky. We asked our Year 11 leaders to share their top tips for someone who is just getting started in BattleBots or RoboCup.
- Add a ramp at the front of your vehicle – often the robot will charge and go up the ramp and tip over.
- Use a simple line-follower program for a straight line when training for RoboCup.
- Program your robot to make decisions at forks in the road.
- Keep practising - as the old saying goes, 'practise makes perfect'.
Find out more about Robotics at CCGS.
- Images by the CCGS Visual Media Team made up of Ben, Logan, Piper and Nick -