A GROUP of young Scots inventors have their sights on an international prize after reaching the UK finals of the worldwide Lego League Challenge.
The primary six pupils headed off competition from high school technology buffs across Scotland to qualify for the UK finals in Loughborough, Leicestershire, in January.
The kids from Duddingston Primary School in Edinburgh built and programmed the robot, which is made entirely from Lego, to tackle various climate change and transportation themed tasks.
Teacher Anne Macdonald said the team – some of whom are aged 10 – had just about managed to get their heads around programming the robot in time for the competition.
She said: “This has been an extremely exciting opportunity for the pupils.“The children had to build and programme their own Lego Mind Storms Robot to carry out a variety of tasks as well as prepare and present a research project on the theme of ‘smarter transport’.
“The whole process was very active and hands-on, children had to develop high levels of team work skills as well as an understanding of the technical aspects of manipulating the robot. It has certainly been a great experience for the pupils and the school.”
This month’s competition was the first to be held in Scotland, and is part of a 12,000 team international race to create the world’s most advanced Lego robot.
Edinburgh University’s Infomatics department – who organised the Scottish competition – set tasks for the robots, including ‘studying wildlife’ and ‘burying carbon dioxide’.
The contestants also had to complete a project on how climate change could affect their community to enter the heats.
Mairi Fraser, primary sixth pupil, said: “It was great fun but very nerve-racking because there were so many teams taking part and quite a lot of them were high schools.
“We are really happy that we won, we actually couldn’t believe it because it was the first time we’d ever done it.
“And we’ve got a really cool Lego trophy in our trophy cabinet at school now.”
Morna Findlay, at the School of Informatics said: “The University of Edinburgh was delighted to host the Scottish round of the Lego League Challenge.
“This event gave children the chance to work across the curriculum, developing research and teamwork skills as well as getting involved in hands-on science, and then to show off their achievements at the final tournament.”
With around 10 members in each team, it is estimated that more than 100,000 pupils worldwide take part in the league, which concludes at the world festival in April 2010.
Lego was invented in 1934 by Ole Kirk Christiansen, with the brand name coming from the Danish for ‘play well’.
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