OUR SCHOOLS | Robotics teams are off to Houston

Two teams from Unity Grammar College at Austral are on their way to Houston, Texas, for the International Robotics Championships.

STEM Cells Y and STEM Cells Z are in Houston this month to represent Australia at the First Lego League challenge.

First Lego League engages children in playful, meaningful learning while showing them the fun of science and technology. With adult coaches, the teams research problems to develop solutions.

The theme this year is space. Teams design, build and program a robot using Lego Mindstorms technology to compete on a tabletop playing field.

The championship is the world's largest celebration of STEM for students, bringing together tens of thousands of students from around the world who participate in K-12 robotics programs, along with educators, industry professionals, sponsors, organisations and supporting colleges and universities.

Unity Grammar chief executive Aaron Boyd said "We're proud of our robotics students. They're true ambassadors for our college and our country and display the highest professionalism and respect at all times.

"We're privileged to be in the Lego program. It teaches collaboration and teamwork while applying science, technology, engineering and maths concepts to real-world problems."

Malek Maarbani

Year 6, STEM Cells Z team

How long have you been doing Robotics? It's my first season, so less than a year. I've wanted to try it since my brothers did it. They really enjoyed it and that inspired me to give it a shot.

How often do you practise? Our team practises Project on Friday afternoons, Robot on Saturday and Core Values each time we meet. These are the three areas we get marked on.

Can you elaborate? ForProject we have to find a problem for astronauts and solve it. We looked at medicine packaging to withstand radiation, heat and extreme temperature. We did lots of research and collaboration as a team. For Robot there's a time limit of two and a half minutes. Teams build attachments to put on their robot to complete the mission on the table. A mission may be to insert a tube into a hole, so you program the robot to drive straight, turn, reverse, etc. Core Values is about teamwork and helping each other.

Why do you enjoy this? I love competing in robotics because you make such strong bonds with teammates when you work closely. And it'll be good on my resume.

What are you looking forward to most in Houston? I love the idea of competing for Unity Grammar and for Australia. I'm really looking forward to going overseas and competing against so many other countries to see if we can come home with a trophy. In Houston I want to see a basketball game!

Affaan Ali

Year 8, STEM Cells Y team

How long have you been doing it? About nine months. It's been really enjoyable.

Why did you join? I watched the 2018 team and I saw how far they went representing the college and our country. I thought it'd be a good experience. Robotics revolves around STEM and seven out of 10 top jobs in the world revolve around STEM. I've been doing STEM as a subject for three years and it's really interesting.

How often do you practise? We practise Friday and Saturday and sometimes at lunch so about nine hours a week. It's made me really close to my teammates.

What are the three areas? ForProject you come up with a solution to a space problem. We came up with a magnetic chess board. We brainstormed entertainment in space and thought it'd help solve boredom. We found a velcro board that had been made but the velcro didn't last long. For Robot we did programming and building, involving engineering. You build and program the robot. In Core Values we're asked about our experience and teamwork.

Why do you enjoy it? My favourite part is coming in out of hours and working with my friends. It's exciting to compete for Australia. There are only three Australian teams at Houston. It's my first time competing for my school. Robotics will help me in lots of jobs. Engineering, maths and team building all prepare me for work. It'll help me get to uni.