Ms Byrne's 5th Class were very lucky to be chosen at the start of the year to be involved in an engineering initiative run by Carlow Institute of Technology. The initiative called VEX Robotics involved 25 schools from around Ireland coming together to compete in a robotics competition. Each school was given a box of equipment and parts to construct a robot. This robot then needed to be programmed by the students. Once programmed, students were given the opportunity to drive the robot. The final step in the process was moving items on a field that measured 4ft x 8ft in order to score points.
Our class started to get to work on the project by dividing into groups of seven and taking turns to build the robot. We followed 140 instructional steps to build our clawbot. We had to be very careful because the parts were small and intricate. You can check out our clawbot below. We named our clawbot The Greatest Showman.
Once we had our robot built we had to learn to program the brain in order for it to move in a variety of ways. Ms Jordan and Ms Byrne organised for us to have some lessons on Scratch with Trevor Murphy from computingschools.ie and we really enjoyed that because he gave us lots of handy tips on how to program.
Next we spent some time practising on our school laptops. Once we were familiar with Scratch we found a program similar to it that was compatible with our robot. It was called Graphical Robot C and was very easy to use.
A group of children then took on the job of programming and spent some time exploring the ways the robot could move and be directed. Bernard kindly made us a field guide and we used chalk and plastic cups to replicate the real playing field in order to work out measurements for driving. We had to really use our problem solving skills here.
While the programmers worked on the brain another team was set up to drive the robot.
Another aspect of the competition involved finding out about STEAM and making a poster to represent what STEAM means to us and it's importance in our classroom and world. Ms Byrne told us about STEAM and we investigated it online. We each then had a chance to make a poster based on this Once we finished our posters Ms Byrne chose an Art team to create a large poster for the competition. On the 8th of March we set off for Carlow IT with The Greatest Showman, our drivers, programmers, Art team and a colourful STEAM poster.
Before the competition we got to watch a science demonstration led by The Young Einsteins. It was really interesting and Leon from our class got to go up on stage and take part in an experiment. It was cool getting to sit in a real lecture hall like college students do.
The competition took part in a large Sports Hall. There was an area for the audience on one side and three arenas set up for the competition. Each school got to drive in six rounds and then take part in a programming challenge. We also had our STEAM poster displayed in the auditorium for everyone to see. We were delighted to place in the top ten teams for the driving competition and we received a score of 10/10 for the programming activity. It made all our hard work and preparations worthwhile.
We received participation certificates and cool bags for taking part.
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