Students from Port Macquarie tasted success when they put their minds to the test in Coffs Harbour on November 20.
They were vying for placings at the annual FIRST LEGO League Robotics Regional Championship, a tournament catering for upper-primary and lower-secondary school students aged nine to 14.
Every year, teams of up to 10 students build, program and compete with a robot, while also learning about a modern problem in science and engineering and developing solutions for it.
St Columba Anglican School’s Koala team claimed first place with a superb performance and display of knowledge, calm under pressure and teamwork.
The team of nine young students won two awards at the championship - the Robot Performance Award and the Overall Champions of the tournament.
Team leader, Indiana Jones, said it was quite a feat for a group of year six students who had never attempted robotics before.
“We are all ‘newbies’. It was our first time entering the competition,” Indiana said.
The Robot Performance Award was given to the team that scored the most points in the competition.
It was an outer space themed challenge and their programmable Lego robot needed to complete a number of specific missions within a time frame of two and a half minutes.
“One example was the oxygen tank ensemble, where the robot had to approach a module and insert something,” Indiana explained.
“The robot has special motors to move wheels, pulleys and attachments to perform actions. But there’s no joystick, we have to rely on our programming code.”
The students were required to construct, program and test their robot prior to the competition. Each member of the team had a different role.
The students now have their sights of the larger high school robotics competition next year.
Tacking Point Public School’s team, Tacking Point Curiosity, also won a spot in the state competition and have a chance to travel to Wollongong this weekend (November 24) but are not able to attend.
Nevertheless, their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Organisers chose them as the gracious professionalism award recipients.
Tacking Point Public teacher, Cass Tonkin, said she was very proud of them.
“Considering we had to beat a lot of high schools makes it that much better,” she said.
“There were 22 teams entered and from the get go our kids were really positive and enthusiastic. That’s why they won that award, because they showed the core values and that they were great at supporting each other.”
Despite not being able to attend the next level this weekend, their efforts in scoring so well is a credit to the students, Ms Tonkin said.