Sheffield pupils in robotics challenge

Dore robotics group
Dore robotics group

An exciting project for technology-minded youngsters at Dore Primary School is moving ahead at speed.

The Dore Diodes as they call themselves, are the school’s First Lego League robotics club.

First Lego League is a programme for nine–to 16-year-olds that is designed to get children excited about science and technology.

Teams are required to design and programme a Lego robot to solve missions. Members also have to invent a solution to a real-life problem. This year’s theme is recycling.

In December the Dore Diodes will go to a regional competition to compete against a wide mix of primary and secondary school teams.

Alexander Percy, team coach, said: “This will be our first year competing. We started the club in school a year ago and have been preparing ever since, learning how to build and programme the robots.

“The Dore Diodes can now build a robot that uses a light sensor to follow a line, uses an ultra-sonic sensor to follow a wall at a set distance, and uses a colour sensor to stop when it sees certain colours.

“Last term our team had a visit and presentation from the 2014 regional winners The Greenhill Gizmos, from Greenhill School, and now they’re really excited to be taking part themselves.”

The two Sheffield teams are both competing this year, but in different categories, so will not go head to head in the competition.

The Dore team’s first task is to build the robot and mission models following conventional Lego style instructions.

Members of the team are keen to do well and have worked on their plans every day at lunchtimes and after school on their first week back to do the necessary preparation.

Now they are discussing strategies for the robot game as a team and are starting the all-important project aspect.

Each year the FLL Project has a different theme – the teams must create an invention to solve a real-world problem on that year’s theme. As this year it is Recycling, the Dore team will visit the Veolia ERF site in Sheffield early nect month to find out some of the challenges that recycling presents in Sheffield.

The children are particularly excited by trying to solve problems that adults can’t, said Mr Percy.

“There is a strong ethos of collaborating and building with team-mates’ ideas.

“It’s a superb way to encourage boys and girls to think about STEM career paths as they move on to secondary school.”

Team members gave their own thoughts about the project;

Millie, eight, said: “Lego club is good fun because you make really cool robots and you learn how to programme.”

Gabriel, nine, said: “I never thought school would teach such awesome stuff.”

Mark, nine, added: “Lego club teaches me about electronics so I can understand the latest technology.”

Each challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the FLL Core Values.

Teams of up to 10 children, with at least one adult coach programme an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field, developing a solution to a problem they have identified, all guided by the FLL Core Values.

Teams may then attend an official tournament.