St Columba Anglican School – Award Winning Robot
In July an enterprising team of 10 secondary students travelled to the Duel Down Under FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) held at Macquarie University. The rookie team competed over three days with teams from all over Australia. Many of the teams are aligned with schools although, a number of them are community and university clubs that mentor robotics students for the event.
In the design and manufacture of our robot students worked with a range of tools that allowed them to prototype and create working parts on our robot. Over the last 3 years SCAS has purchased two Universal Lasers from LST Group and each day students work with great independence on these machines. I have often advised that if schools are looking at a piece of equipment with the best bang for buck they cannot go past lasers. Students from Year 7 are trained with Adobe Illustrator and within a few short weeks are designing, configuring the laser and manufacturing with independence. No doubt our push with the lasers has been a large part of our success in the FRC which stems from what happens in our classrooms on a daily basis.
Students work with a wide range of materials. Specifically, for our winning robot, students prototyped and manufactured with ply, MDF, acrylic and polycarbonate materials. Our Iona Fusion team were the overall winners of this competition and they were also successful in achieving the award for Engineering Excellence in Robot Design. This award is given to the team who demonstrated strong principles of design, with a special mention of the computer-aided design and manufacturing used to produce their robot. While the Duel Downunder is a competition and a rather intense one at times, participants float between the pits of other teams, helping with robot repairs, lending parts or equipment and offering gameplay advice. We have always considered our school design studios the same way. One in which students use STEAM tools in collaboration with their peers to produce a wide range of products and, in our case, an award winning robot.
Over the last 3 years SCAS has purchased two Universal Lasers from LST Group and each day students work with great independence on these machines. I have often advised that if schools are looking at a piece of equipment with the best bang for buck they cannot go past lasers.