Student of the Week
This week, SOTW (returning after an extended break...) celebrates Woodhouse student Bella from New Barnet, who came to us last year from East Barnet School and is currently studying maths, English literature, sociology and psychology.
But when she isn't studying... Bella builds robots. National tournament winning robots.
"My interest stems from some years ago and an extracurricular activity at my previous school, where we entered teams into VEX regional competitions."
(In the VEX Competitions, presented by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other teams from other schools in a game-based engineering challenge. Tournaments are held year-round at regional and national levels and champions go on to compete against the best in the world at VEX Worlds each April.)
"We entered lots of competitions and I really enjoyed it. After I left school I wanted to carry on with it, so I joined a team.
Virus Robotics (Bella on the right)
My team now is called Virus Robotics and was an already existing team made up from friends from different schools. We are independent and rely on sponsorship. It's a team of six and we all have a certain role. One drives, one is in charge of programming, there's PR and tactics and a couple of builders. I do building - the physical construction of the robot - and some of the PR. We get together every Saturday to work on the robots.
Our team is very successful. We are five times national champions and undefeated in the UK. Last week we won five UK national competition awards - Tournament Champions, Excellence, Judges Award, Robot Skills and Programming Skills. A really good win.
We build our robot from aluminium - you can use steel but that's a bit heavy - using parts that are supplied by the VEX corporation who run the events, so that all teams have access to to the same construction parts. It's quite expensive. We normally design the robot on CAD (computer aided design) and from that we can decide which parts we need to order to start building.
Teams are only allowed one robot but we have lots of extra parts and we adapt the robot for each competition because it has to perform different functrions each time. Last year the robot had to be massive, it was really tall, with a scissor lift - it was taller than me! This year you are not allowed to expand outside of 18 inches, so we now have all these parts left over (but we saved money on the build this year).
We are going to the world championships next month in Louisville, Kentucky USA, where thousands of groups and schools from all over the world compete at a big convention centre. I have been to the 'worlds' before about three years ago in California - it was amazing.
Obviously, it's expensive with flights and hotels and robot costs, which is why we our so grateful for our sponsors, who are
engineering companies Mason Navarro Pledge Ltd and Seymour Powell. This is the main part of our PR mission, getting sponsorship. We email engineering companies, tell them what we've done, and see if they want to meet with us. We been lucky with sponsors so far but have also had lots and lots of help from parents, grandparents and other friends and family - who've been really supportive.
There are no huge prizes in the VEX competitions, it's more about the prestige of winning, and building something that works really well. We've won seven regionals competitions this season - we went to seven different competitions around the country because we wanted to get lots of practice before the nationals - and we won them all.
Outside of robotics and college I don't have much time for anything else. I work as a babysitter and do my homework and that's pretty much all. I took the Run 10k enrichment at Woodhouse which I really enjoyed, I'd never done one before and it was really good - I completed it in 59 minutes and really amazed myself - and Greenwich Park was a really nice place to run.
I love it here (at Woodhouse). I wanted to leave my old school as it's quite small and I didn't really want be around younger kids, and Woodhouse was the main place everyone was talking about. I came to open day and just loved it and that persuaded me. I think it's much nicer than a sixth form at school - it was a good change and I like the idea of a new start.
I'm not sure about what I want to do at university yet, but I'm looking forward to studying maths or something maths related - you can do robotics at uni but i don't know if I'd go into that at degree level.
For now, all I can think about is the trip to the USA and competing at 'Worlds' next month, I can't wait."
And we can't wait to hear how your team got on Bella, the best of luck. Bring your robot to college!
You can find out lots more about Bella's team on their web, you tube and twitter pages below.
09 November 2016
Class of 2016
22 March 2016
13 January 2016
Theo Cox Dodgson
10 December 2015
26 November 2015
12 November 2015
28 October 2015
08 October 2015
01 October 2015
17 September 2015
10 September 2015
25 June 2015
30 April 2015
23 April 2015
16 April 2015
12 March 2015
05 March 2015
26 February 2015
19 February 2015
12 February 2015
05 February 2015