January 2018 an e-mail arrived at the school, addressed to no-one in particular. The e-mail told the exciting news about a robotics competition which would be held at Sheringham High School with a view to finding a team to go forward to an international competition in Estonia. Best of all….robots would be provided and (should we win through) all travel expenses would be covered! I signed up straightaway.
There were already a small group of students who were coming along on a Thursday after school to build and program our Lego NXT robots but the prospect of a robot battle was very exciting.
At a meeting at Sheringham in April I collected two sets of EV3 Lego robots plus an expansion kit. Our team were very excited and once we were familiar with the rules for the competition they began building and programming. There are strict rules about the dimensions of each robot and it’s weight, but no restriction on height and we soon discovered why! A tall robot is intrinsically unstable! Robots were built, tested, re-programmed, re-built and tested again. Nathan and Barney took on the sumo robot while Oliver took on the line-following robot.
The sumo bot had to face another bot and through sheer force and/or clever use of scoops or prongs push the opponent out of the ring. The line-following robot had to follow a line made up of curves, straight sections and angles in a timed race against other bots. We practised and built and tested and programmed but without any real opposition we didn’t know how good (or bad!!) our bots were.
A visit from Rob (Sheringham teacher/organiser) in July gave us impetus when our sumo bot beat his bot hands down first time!! Amazing! Nathan and Barney were just a bit pleased. Rob left us a sumo ring and a line-following mat to use in practice and we continued to develop our robots while looking forward to the a practise competition at Sheringham in November.
On competition day we set off to Sheringham robots at the ready. However, something had happened to the sumo bot and it had a sort of crazy fit when it first met the opposition! Nathan and Barney had to work hard to re-program the crazy bot and get it ready to face other opposition. Everyone was in awe of Oliver’s line-following bot, the only one to be able to complete the full course on the mat. The mat had an illegal turn in it (to be corrected) but while others had not manage to program their bots to cope with this sharp turn Oliver had managed to get his bot to complete the course - all hail Oliver!
Each bot had to face the other bots from the rival schools - Sheringham, Stalham and Alderman Peel in a round robin competition. Sadly, due to our sumo bot not feeling very well at the start we went out in an early round. But the line-following bot confounded the organizers as it could do the full course and only lost out to Sheringham on the half course by 4 tenths of a second!!
Once the sumo bot had been to robot hospital it bounced back and was a real force to be reckoned with. So much so, that it beat all the other bots one after another - Stalham, APHS and (the winner) Sheringham.
It was a super day, full of fun and challenge. The students were great and everyone helped everyone else - lending bits, borrowing laptops and mats and giving each other hints and tips on robot building and programming. We’re really looking forward to the next round of competition in April 2019 when things will hot up! The winner of this competition will go on to the full international competition in Estonia - don’t touch that robot boys!!