Taree High School students get clever with robots ahead of Hunter RoboCup

Working together: Eric Sercombe, Sasha Dempsey, Harley Dangerfield, Max Harrison and Calib Hunt.
Working together: Eric Sercombe, Sasha Dempsey, Harley Dangerfield, Max Harrison and Calib Hunt.

THE room was abuzz. 

There were conversations on computer coding, swapping of parts and numerous test drives.

But most of all there was a room full of high school students firmly focused on the common goal of making functional Lego robots. 

This scene comes from the final period at Taree High School (THS) on Wednesday, where each week the room of A20 is transformed into a robot workshop space for students. 

THS teacher Barbara Tate said the robots are a project-orientated way of introducing further STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills. 

Participating student Harley Dangerfield said he likes getting to work together with other students.

“It’s a fun thing to do with friends,” said Harley.

“It’s a challenge as well.”

Harley said the main skill he’s learnt is computer programming, where students must enter different codes of information to control the robot’s movement.

Barbara said the robots were made available through a grant from the sponsored by Regional Development Australia – Hunter’s ME program. 

Students will compete in a robots competition in June sponsored by the ME program.

Students will travel to Newcastle for the RoboCup Junior Hunter Regionals at University of Newcastle, which is sponsored by the ME program.

The objective of RoboCup Junior Australia is to help young people expand their social, intellectual and problem-solving skills, helping them to develop into creative and independent adults.

“I think we will do well. I don’t know if we will win but we hope to do well,” said Harley. 

The competition will have different categories including soccer, sumo wrestling and dance. 

Student Sasha Dempsey said their team has chosen soccer, because “it seems like the most fun and challenging”. 

To practice, the students managed to send the robot all the way to the office of THS executive principal Allison Alliston, who loved the robot’s surprise visit. 

“It’s brilliant,” she said.