Secondary schools challenged to pitch for a Robot Teacher

Schools challenge to put in a pitch for a Robotic Teacher!
Schools challenged to put in a pitch for a Robotic Teacher!

SECONDARY SCHOOLS THROUGHOUT Moray and the Highlands are being challenged to enter teams who can come up with a winning pitch on why they should win a robot.

The unusual challenge comes from the University of the Highlands and Islands who have launched a ‘Christmas Robot’ competition.

School teams will be asked to pitch for up to eight minutes and explain how a robot might be used to help pupils learn about science, technology, engineering or maths. The teams who are judged to have made the most convincing and creative pitches will win Meccano Meccanoid robots.

These robots can speak, move, record sounds and will respond to voice commands as well as connect to ‘smart’ devices. In addition to the robots the competition will also offer smaller prizes, such as robotic arms.

Schools wishing to enter a team are asked to register by Friday, January 22 with judging taking place in March 2016 – and the winning teams announced at the Inverness Science Festival in May.

The Christmas Robot Competition is being organised by the University of the Highlands and Islands science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) team.

STEM administrator, Dr Evelyn Gray, explains: “We hope a team from every secondary school in the Moray and the Highlands and Islands regions will enter this competition.

“The Meccano Meccanoid is an exciting piece of equipment which can be used to develop many cross-curricular activities. Students can learn basic construction techniques and, as the robot can communicate and interact with people, it can help to develop leadership skills.

“In fact, the students seem to be able to communicate with the Meccanoid a lot more successfully than I do!”

School pupils at Inverness High School trialled one of the competition prizes by helping to build a Meccano Meccanoid. It took them ten hours in an after school science club over a five-week period. The pupils are now testing the robot and say they are “very proud of their achievement.”

Brian MacDonald, faculty principal teacher of maths and technology at Inverness High School, said: “The pupils thoroughly enjoyed building the robot. It was challenging, particularly in the initial phase when faced with thousands of bits and pieces, but it was good to see the team working well together and the robot taking shape.”