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RoboCup Nationals in town this weekend

Thursday, 14 September 2017 3:50pm

RoboCup650Looking for a fun event to take the kids to?

Why not head off to the RoboCup Junior New Zealand finals?

“Robocup is a unique event that excites and motivates school students,” says Professor Anthony Robins, from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Otago.

“Students participating in RoboCup Junior New Zealand events may choose between Robot Theatre, Rescue or Soccer. Any brand of robot may be used, provided they can be programmed and are not remote controlled. Students are also encouraged to build their own robots,” he continued.

The competition, running in New Zealand since 2004 and reaching around 700 school students in any one year is organised by a Dunedin committee made up of representatives of local engineering companies, schools, and the University of Otago. The main organisers are Sandy Garner and Professor Robins from the Department of Computer Science.

Now played in over 30 countries around the world it is a regular feature of the annual university run RoboCup World Finals, where it is the largest league.

“In Otago alone, it started off with about 40 kids competing. It is up to around 120-150 these days. Thousands of school students, since its inception, have had an exciting and challenging introduction extending right across the school curriculum, including problem solving, engineering, and programming. It also addresses social development by encouraging sportsmanship, sharing, teamwork, understanding of differences between individuals and nations, cooperation and organisational skills,” Professor Robins said.

Now played in over 30 countries around the world it is a regular feature of the annual university run RoboCup World Finals, where it is the largest league.

Regional competitions up and down the country were held between July and September this year, with the nationals taking place here in Dunedin.

Amy Eguchi, author of Robotics and Autonomous Systems, has said, “Educational robotics is proven to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) interests among students. The hands-on, project-based and goal-oriented learning experience that an educational robotics competition provides has long-lasting impacts on students' learning and motivation for further exploring in STEM or STEM related fields”.

On the Ministry of Education committee responsible for writing the programming related standards, Professor Robins had substantial input into five of the seven introduced in 2011 – 2013.

“I consulted with Sandy extensively during this process, and Sandy went on to develop some of the original teaching materials and examples that became core Ministry resources, while I wrote guidelines for teachers that were also used.”

There is a new revision of the curriculum going on currently.

Robocup is taking place Saturday 16 September 8:30am to 2:30pm at the Dunedin City Baptist Church, 19 Main South Road, Concord, Dunedin

Entrance is free, but visitors will be invited to purchase a $5 raffle ticket with a chance to win an EV3 Robot Kit donated by Modern Teaching Aids.