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Robotics: bringing Stem skills to life

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Tech team: Somersfield Academy’s Innovation and Robotics Programme recently sent eight students to the annual VEX Robotics Competition in Louisville, Kentucky. Shown from left in the front row are Cameron Pimentel, Jacques Stefani, Neil Varwandkar and Nash Storey. In the back row, from left are Ethan Etemadi, Bradley Stewart, Kieran Kimberley and Frank Arnold (Photograph submitted)

There is no denying the power of robotics. Take US company Starship Technologies; their team of engineers produces self-driving delivery robots that carry items such a documents or groceries from point A to point B across a three-kilometre radius.

As a customer, you can order a delivery and monitor its journey on your smartphone.

Within five to thirty minutes, a six-wheeled self-driving robot, R2D2-like in size and shape, will appear at an agreed point carrying your Starbucks latte and raspberry scone. Why bother waiting in line?

As technologies such as robotics, automation and artificial intelligence expand, schools are catching on and developing educational programmes to help students learn how to interact with and create complex systems using robotics.

Essentially an interdisciplinary approach to design, robotics combines computer science with mechanical and electrical engineering.

The purpose of the field is to use these disciplines to create autonomous robots that do specific roles.

For example, robots are used in agriculture, medicine and manufacturing. And in many ways robots are redefining these industries.

Somersfield Academy jumped on the robotics trend in education in 2011 and has been quietly building a robust programme for students.

Most recently, a group of eight students represented Bermuda at the VEX World Middle School Championships in Kentucky.

Currently the only school in Bermuda offering VEX Competitive Robotics, the students were given a significant challenge.

VEX competitions bring Stem skills to life by tasking teams of students with designing and building a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge.

Success depends on teamwork and communication, but also strong skills in Stem (science, technology, engineering and math).

Kimberly Hogg is the Somersfield Academy Innovations & Robotics Teacher. To learn more about the Innovations and Robotics Programme at Somersfield please contact the Main Office on 236-9797 or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @somersfieldacademy

Team work: Somersfield Academy Innovations and Robotics students work to address a problem on their robot
Arrival of the tech Jedi: Nash Storey with a robot made to look like the R2D2 character
Sizing up the competition: Somersfield Academy Innovation and Robotics students at the 2018 VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky