August 10, 2020

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Exposing young students to STEM via robot competition

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An exciting Canberra-based robot design competition, called “Robots in Space!” is looking for interested Year 5 and 6 students.

According to a recent press release, the competition will see student teams designing and/or building their own robotic lunar explorers.

About the competition

To do this, they will have to imagine the challenges their robots could face on the Moon and come up with creative solutions to overcome them.

The initiative aims to stoke the interest of the students in Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics (STEM).

It is vital to have an environment in which kids can be introduced to STEM at their own paces.

Not enough school students are given exposure to science and engineering in an exciting and innovative way. Because of this, STEM fields are in desperate need of more passionate and creative minds.

As shared by the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Canberra, encouraging young thinkers to undertake STEM activities is very important for the future.

This year, teams will register and submit entries for the Canberra-based competition via its website, which hosted by the University of Canberra.

Registrations close on 16 August while submissions close on 27 September.

Students can participate in one of two categories.

Teams in the General category will create a non-functional robot. The Open category, on the other hand, is for schools that have access to robot kits and will see teams build functional robots.

Teams in both categories will build obstacle courses, created around their robots’ perceived challenges.

Compared to other competitions of its kind, less focus is being given on coding in this competition. It encourages creativity and collaboration across diverse areas including the arts.

An Associate Professor of the University shared that this broader STEA[rts]M approach to learning is going to be an important part of future-proofing the youngsters.

Importance of STEM skills

This collaborative initiative is a great opportunity to give back to the community and teach children how STEM can be fun and exciting.

Moreover, it will help the children learn how to think outside the box for solving solutions that they will face in their day to day lives.

The Deputy Head of the Australian Space Agency, and a judge in the competition, explained that programs like this will introduce STEM skills that the students will need for the jobs of the future.

With the rapid transformation of Australia’s space industry, these jobs include a vast array of space-related jobs in Australia.

The lunar focus of competition is particularly timely as the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing this year.

The Moon landing epitomises what STEM is all about – a group of people coming together with common purpose, collaborating to answer one of humanity’s big questions.

The initiative to stoke the interest of students in STEM was made possible through collaboration among government, academia and industry that include the Australian Space Agency and the University of Canberra.

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