Upon arrival students were split into small teams and each challenged to programme a Lego Mindstorms robot to detect defects along a weld line. Volunteer ambassadors, many at an early stage in their career, were on hand throughout the day to help teams complete a number of tasks, designed to get them thinking about the real-world applications in the industry. By giving students the chance to work with engineers from a diverse range of backgrounds, Cambridge LaunchPad aims to show them the possibilities that are available to them and inspire them to reach their full potential.
Adam Cook, Year 5 teacher at Fulbourn Primary School, said
“Children meet engineers in person and realise that they’re real people of all different backgrounds just like themselves! Simply being exposed to the real working environment of engineers opens up their realm of perceived possibilities.”
Working with their volunteer, students learnt to code their robot to stop when a defect was detected and then continue along the weld line. Once their coding was complete each team named their robot and created a banner for the final defect detective competition. A large track was created using black tape to represent the weld line with intersecting red tape as the defects, each team them tested their robot with TWI engineers and staff cheering them on.
Gabriela Gallegos Garrido Ph.D, MSci, Research Fellow at the London South Bank Innovation Centre, designed some of the days activities.
“When students realise that subjects such as robotics or programming are actually fun, that being an engineer could be fun, they get interested and would definitely consider taking an STEM path. This is what makes this kind of activities worth it.”
Over the course of the day students were encouraged to think about some of the additional skills they were developing during their activities. These skills included teamwork, communication, problem-solving and curiosity. The team that best displayed their understanding of these values, along with having a successful robot, were given the ‘Top Team’ award and invited to attend the Cambridge LaunchPad award ceremony and additional trip to be held at the end of the academic year. Certificates were also given for the teams that had the best design and the best teamwork.
One Year 5 students at Fulbourn Primary School, thought that other students should be given the chance to get involved.
“Everyone should do LaunchPad because you get to have fun at the same time as learning new things. This is not something you can do every day so for some people this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
If you want to find out more about how the programme works, please visit: www.cambridge-launchpad.com