Lego champions at St Augustine’s primary
Published on: 02 Jan 2015
TWENTY children from St Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Primary School have sealed their title as some of the best Lego builders in the country.
They battled it out with 20 other schools from across the region to be crowned First Lego League robotics champions, securing their place in the national finals in February.
The team has been coached and supported by ex-Lego club members now studying at Downend School in preparation for the competition.
The children, aged between nine and 11, had to prove different missions such as collections and knocking over objects.
They were then challenged to invent something that could help other children learn, so came up with the Tap Listen Blend Pen to break down the barriers for children with dyslexia. The pen can help with reading by sounding out a word. The team researched their invention first by interviewing experts at Bath University and the Dyslexia Centre via Skype.
Judges of the competition at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Bristol were impressed by St Augustine’s in all elements of the competition.
One child said, “It was really nerve wracking when other teams were programming and controlling their robots because I thought we might not do as well as them.”
The youngsters got through a rigorous interview in which they were quizzed about their team work and robot design choices, and gave an excellent presentation of their invention.
The team won medals, a trophy made of Lego and an HP tablet for the school. Pupils said the contest had been an amazing experience.
Teacher Jess Scott said: “The team performed brilliantly in the robot challenge. Many other teams had been working for 10 hours a week, whereas Lego Learners only practised for 10 hours in total in an after school club. The whole school are so proud of them!”
Dr Lia Emmanuel from Bath University said: “We think the invention is a great idea. It would really help children living with dyslexia learn to read.”
The national finals will be hosted by Loughborough University on Sunday February 1, giving the team just a few weeks to refine their robot mission work and develop their Tap Listen Blend Pen. To do this they will work with engineering experts to help develop a prototype. But it’s not just about the engineering, the team needs to manage the business side of things too and are already on the hunt for sponsorship to cover their costs.
They have started a fundraising team who are working on ways to raise funds to buy more Lego robots for the school to make sure all children can gain the invaluable experience that the Lego Learners have in programming and design skills.