Robotics students have the right moves

At St Therese’s Catholic Primary School Lakemba, students like to include robotics in everything they do – including dancing.

Years 5 and 6 children recently performed movement pieces alongside their robots as part of the ‘On Stage’ portion of RoboCup Junior Australia, and were commended for their strong efforts in their first year entering the competition.

Students presented two dances – a western-themed number, for which robots wore cowboy hats, and a space-themed performance, which saw both students and robots wield sabre-style swords.

Year 6 student Valencia Ang said students chose a song for each dance first, selecting strong beats that would lend themselves to robotic movements, then chose their theme based on what suited the music.

“Then we made the dance for the robot and figured out what moves we could do to make us and the robot in sync,” she explained.

Teacher Librarian Margaret Heyes said Valencia and her teammates weren’t part of a specific gifted program, but opted in to the program out of a love of STEM and robotics.

Students across the school do coding and robotics in the library every Friday, exploring STEM through a range of programmable devices and simple coding tools, but RoboCup provided interested children with a clear path to take their learning further.

“We thought that it was good for the children to have a goal in mind, rather than just create the robots.”

“As we’re a single stream school, it was also great that they went out into the big wide world and saw a lot of other children being involved in STEM as part of RoboCup.”

As well as dancing, the RoboCup competition includes categories for rescue or soccer-playing robots, and students are scored based on a variety of factors in each category.

Teams in the On-Stage category lose points if their robots move outside a 2×2 metre square, if they touch or interfere with their robot or if they need to restart, so robots need to be custom-built and pre-programmed.

“It’s all coding – they’re ready to do their dance,” said Valencia.

The school plans to enter the competition again next year, with students hoping to create a performance based on the cartoon Adventure Time.

See the robots in action:

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