Posted on the 17th May 2019
Written by Mission Control

Pioneers represent UK at FIRST world robotics championships!

UK Inspire Award winners from Newcastle Academy (Newbotics101) and St. Christopher School (St Chris Snowflakes) broke UK boundaries at the world’s largest robotics competition this April – the FIRST® World Championship 2018-19.

Each team earned a coveted spot to represent the UK in Detroit, Michigan, USA, following triumphs at the inaugural Northern and Southern UK Regional Championships. Teams put their newly developed robotics skills through their paces as they joined 17,000 young people from 37 countries around the world. While FIRST® Tech Challenge launched in the UK in 2018, the programme belongs to a 30-year-old global movement which sees 500,000 young people take part annually.

“It’s phenomenal to think that last September, teams were met with a box of over 1000 parts, stacks of learning resources, a list of team roles and an unknown challenge to navigate.

“Fast forward to the world championship and they’ve grown into innovators capable of breaking boundaries you’d expect to see at industry level. The relationships they’ve built, the skills and resilience they’ve developed, as well as the enthusiasm passed on to their local community is remarkable. Both teams are exemplary role models to future participants and their success is well-deserved,” reflects Ed Cervantes-Watson, CEO at FIRST UK.


Global recognition for philanthropic accomplishments

St Chris Snowflakes made it their mission to enrich the FIRST community here in the UK. The Year 10 students mentored younger students participating in FIRST Lego League, an introductory robotics programme tailored to a younger audience. They also supported the fledgling FIRST Tech Challenge UK community, sharing encouragement and broadcasting how they approached problem-solving along the way.

St. Chris Snowflakes report on their progress, problems and plans using stuffed toys.

The team also generously donated excess money from their fundraising efforts to deserving local causes, giving back to the community that supported them throughout the programme. In recognition of this charitable ethos, St Chris Snowflakes was awarded the Judges Philanthropic Award at the FIRST World Championship.

Jennifer Petit, teacher and team leader at St Christopher School, commented: “I am extremely proud of each member of the team. They came together and showed unity and acceptance of not just each other, but teams from all over the world. They have been dedicated to not only the building and programming of the robot, but also utilising the whole of the engineering method while also reaching out to younger kids to inspire their interest in STEM. I am absolutely thrilled with the Judges Award in Detroit, as it showed the team all of their hard work and dedication to not only the robot but also each other was well worth the journey.”

St Chris Snowflakes receive the Judges Philanthropic Award at the world championship event


Inspiring a local community and learning from a global movement

Newbotics101 from Newcastle Academy presented to other schools in their community offering a lens into the possibilities of STEM. The team proactively engaged with a variety of young people from preschool up to Year 6 students, giving robot demonstrations and talks about their experience in STEM.

Newbotics101 visit a local primary school with their award-winning robot

In preparation for the world competition, Newbotics101 raised funds to support their trip through local business sponsorships and a successful crowdfunding campaign. Recognising peer engagement is a great learning opportunity, they used their time in Detroit to learn from other more experienced teams, helping to prepare them for next season.

Joanna Thorogood, teacher and team lead at Newcastle Academy commented: “This competition has been such a fantastic opportunity for our students to work together as a team. Our students were in different year groups so there was a lot of team bonding sessions before they even started. Once they started getting ready for the UK Regional Championships there was no stopping them. The competition is so much more than building a robot and programming it.”

“As this was the first year the UK has taken part in the FIRST Tech Challenge the students were eager to learn from some of the more established teams and took opportunities to study robots, talk to teams about their engineering notebooks and how they reach out to their local communities. The experience of attending the World Championships in America has really helped the students to become more resilient, confident and to adapt to challenging situations. I am extremely proud of the students that took part and how they represented Newcastle Academy, the local community and the UK.”


Next season’s challenge ventures to a galaxy far, far away…

FIRST Inspires and Disney’s philanthropic organisation, Star Wars: Force for Change are joining forces to present this season’s global theme ‘FIRST RISE: The force is building’. It’s more than droids. Working in teams, students embark on a 6-month challenge to build a metropolis that’s out of this world. Adopting real-world roles and an industry mentor, teams design, build and programme a robot to compete in this year’s FIRST Tech Challenge game SKYSTONE.

Due to its successful inaugural year, FIRST Tech Challenge UK is expanding to multiple regions across the UK with 250 team spots available this 2019-20 season, increased from 100 teams last year. Teams will be challenged to reach new heights and build a galactic metropolis that’s out of this world. As FIRST Inspires describes…

“This 2019-2020 season, FIRST RISE, powered by Star Wars: Force for Change, is setting out to inspire citizens of the galaxy to work together, strengthening and protecting the Force that binds us and creating a place where collaboration and collective wisdom can elevate new ideas and foster growth.”

Each year, the game theme, introduced globally by FIRST Inspires, informs the robotics challenge teams are set to compete in. Learn more about this season.

Want to rise to the challenge? Registration is now open. Register early by 31 May to get a £75 kit booster.

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