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Port Royal clean up at robotics course

Lego learning: a trash-collecting robot is navigated at the Bermuda National Trust’s Stem education programme yesterday (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A class of Primary 3 pupils got a crash course in robot building and programming from the Bermuda National Trust yesterday.

The youngsters from Port Royal Primary School were taught the basics of robotics, engineering and programming using Lego WeDo2.0 robots.

The real-life versions of Wall-E, the trash collector robot star of the 2008 smash hit Pixar/Disney animated film, were programmed to collect plastic waste and deliver the trash to colour coded sorting stations.

Dörte Horsfield, director of education at the BNT, said: “The session was about teaching children about ocean plastic pollution in Bermuda — why it’s a problem and where it comes from.”

Dr Horsfield said: “We built robots with Lego WeDo2.0 that were basically little sweepers. We programmed them to sweep up different coloured plastics then sort them into the correct colours at the play table.

“There was a red zone, a blue, a green and a yellow and they had to drive the little sweeper into the correct one.

“It’s a wonderful way into the world of coding, problem-solving and a team-building exercise.”

The 18 youngsters were taught that plastics that originated from the East Coast of the US could spend up to six years in the water before they were washed up on the island’s shores.

They also learnt about microplastics, which get into the food chain because fish ingest them and they are then eaten by humans.

The class, held at the Trust’s Waterville headquarters in Paget, was part of the charity’s science, technology, engineering and maths programme, which was designed to link with Bermuda’s natural history and care for the environment.

Dr Horsfield said: “The pupils were amazing — they didn’t even realise it was their lunchtime because the time went so quickly for them. It really was a fun experience for them.”

She added: It also taught them more about the environment and how to protect it.”

Dr Horsfield said the classes had started at the beginning of this year and that it was hoped to run them every week from September.

Other lessons are linked to the natural and cultural history of Bermuda and science topics such as plants and pollinators, habitats, animal senses and transportation.