Robots were popping up everywhere at The Wey Valley School recently, with 80 Year 9 students working out how to programme them via laptops to achieve such tasks as basketball goal-scoring, feeding model pets, parking vehicles, moving around a site plan and pushing chairs under tables.

The activities were part of the robotics challenge on the school’s recent activity day focusing on science, technology, engineering and maths.


Funded by Bournemouth University outreach, the ‘STEM’ day was delivered by specialists from STEMPlus and gave the students access to the highly-regarded Lego ‘Mindstorms’ programmable computer system.

Mary Critchell, 14-19 age-group manager at the Wey Valley School said: “Robotics is a subject area of growing importance which engages students in complex strategic problem-solving and higher-order thinking - a set of skills which are a high priority in education today.”

“It has been an excellent day with students working co-operatively in pairs and undertaking active problem-solving with intelligent technology in a way that makes them creators and designers of IT, not just consumers.”

Students enjoyed competing to see which group could successfully complete each of the seven available robot challenges first.  Each challenge has different complexities, enabling students to work to their own level and strengths.

Lachlan Fraser and Matthew Wheeler were the first team to successfully park their robot at the model bus stop.

Lachlan said: “It was a real challenge to ensure our robot stayed on the road.”

Matthew said: “This is the first time I have programmed a robot and it was great to get our hands on this amazing technology, which included light sensors, sounds and extra motors.”

Sophie Ridyard and Samantha Bowman undertook a multiple programming challenge to feed the pets on the way to the bus stop. 

Sophie said: “The challenge to complete each task also included extra points by programming your robot to return to the start point, which was quite complicated – but fun.” 

Samantha said: “Some of the tasks were incredibly tricky, but it was very satisfying when we managed to work out how to do them.”

Georgina Humble from STEMPlus said: “The students at Wey Valley met each challenge with enthusiasm using excellent team work, communication skills and application on laptops and programming the robots. We have been impressed by what they managed to achieve.”