Dudgeon grant encourages tomorrow's engineers
A grant from the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm's Community Fund STEM Programme is enabling Sheringham High School to lead an innovative robotics development project for students from six Norfolk schools.
Sonja Chirico Indrebø is the Power Plant Manager of the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm operated by Equinor. She recently met a number of the students involved in the project when she visited Sheringham High School and commented, "Among these students are tomorrow's engineers, vital to the future success of many industries. Norfolk is now a hub for the UK offshore wind industry, a sector which will continue to offer career opportunities for engineers for many years to come. There is a recognised shortage of engineers across the UK, so I believe it is very important that Equinor, as a major offshore wind farm operator, takes an active role supporting projects and initiatives which are designed to encourage students to embrace STEM education and give them hands-on experience of technology."
The project is designed to give students opportunities to observe and develop the STEM skills of science, technology, engineering and mathematics beyond the classroom curriculum, and to increase student uptake in GCSE and A-Level STEM subjects. It will also expose students to the 2019 Robotex Expo international robotics competition in Estonia that will feature technology and engineering companies from all over the world.
In preparation for the format of this competition, the 2018/19 project requires students to develop sumo wrestling and line-following robots. Using Lego EV3 kits, the students design, build, programme and command autonomous robots (known as ‘bots'), enabling these ‘bots' to be capable of a range of actions including walking, shooting, slithering, sliding, spinning and slamming. The Lego kits include a sumo wrestling practice ring and a line-following practice mat.
Charlotte Gardener is the Science Teacher at Sheringham High School who is co-ordinating the project; the other participating schools being Alderman Peel High School, Cliff Park Ormiston Academy, Fakenham Academy, Nicholas Hammond Academy and Stalham High School.
She commented, "Late last year we hosted a practice session at Sheringham High School to allow groups of students and their teachers from each school to meet each other and to engage in a series of casual, but structured and competitive, ‘battles'. It was obvious that there is a huge amount of enthusiasm for this project from teachers and students alike, and some strong computer programming by many of the students has given them an impressive command of their individual robots."
She continued, "The generous grant from the Dudgeon Community Fund will allow this STEM project to benefit around 75 students in the 2018/19 academic year, and potentially a further 150 students in the next two academic years. In April 2019 we will hold rigorous competitions which will decide which students will be representing Norfolk at the Robotex Expo next November. I believe it is an excellent way to encourage students to engage with the STEM disciplines."