“It was thoroughly well deserved,” said the Maynard School’s Head of Computing, Laura Burt, of the robotics team winning the UK’s only trophy at the FIRST LEGO League Open European Championship in Aarhus, Denmark over the weekend of 27-28 May 2017.
With 50 countries represented from across the world and a total of 118 teams, only five of whom were representing the UK, the Maynard Wine Gums was the sole all-girls’ team from Europe and just one of only two in the entire competition.
Aimed at 9-16-year olds, the teams had to build a robot to tackle a series of missions, each representing a different aspect of animal-human interaction. Over the course of two days, the judges assessed all the students on their skills in robotics, computer programming, teamwork, research, problem solving and communication.
“At the end of what was an incredibly busy weekend, it was absolutely fantastic that our team was awarded second place overall for the ‘Inspiration in Core Values’ category. This section of the competition looks for the team that embodies extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit throughout the FIRST LEGO League experience and we were so excited that the Maynard ‘can do’ attitude was rewarded with the UK’s only trophy from the entire championship,” said Mrs Burt.
The team of Kitty Guinness, Bella Brent, Anna Harries, Miri Cooper Wedge and Anya Hitt (all in Year 9) had worked tirelessly in the weeks beforehand to perfect their robot, Sir Killalot, and he thankfully behaved on the day!
“Given our robot was the smallest one there, we didn’t really have very high expectations and it was a bit daunting to start with. Compared to the previous qualifiers, this was much bigger with so many more teams covering a huge array of cultures,” said Kitty Guinness. “The atmosphere was just amazing and we all spent any free time helping each other and discussing our different projects although much was lost in translation with some of the teams who couldn’t speak any English! I suspect that all of this socialising accounted for winning our trophy for ‘inspiration’!”
“In one of the tasks we had to stand on a table and flip the tablecloth without touching the floor and our lifting and jumping tactics had the judges almost crying with laughter! It was a fantastic weekend and we all really enjoyed this rare opportunity to meet so many other like-minded young people from around the world,” she added.
On the back of this unique experience, the Maynard girls have been invited to act as ambassadors at the FIRST LEGO League International Open Championship, a four-day STEM challenge organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology that will be held at the University of Bath later this month.
“The girls should be incredibly proud of these achievements and it is just so special to be flying the flag for women in STEM at these prestigious events and in such successful fashion,” added Mrs Burt.