Roamer Design Competition Key Stage 1

  • Published September 14, 1992
  • By Dave Catlin

Young Children Design Robots

On June 10, schools from around Britain converged on The Science Museum, London, to take part in the finals of the Roamer Design Competition. This issue of GO looks at the Key Stage 1 finalists.

The children set up displays showing the development of the Roamer design and supported it with other aspects of the topic thus putting the design work into a context.

The judges, Professor Heinz Wolff and Mr David Catlin, Managing Director of Valiant, were very impressed with the standard of the work and the wide variety of materials and techniques used. Heinz Wolff summed up the competition, “I was very impressed by the way Roamer stimulated the creativity and imagination of the children. It proved to be a focus for many constructional techniques. Roamer acts as an excellent introduction to design.

Robotic Postman Pat

Martin Perch, James Shurrock, Lisa Hampshar, and Leah Weldon of Tweseldown Infant School, Church Crookham, are fans of Postman Pat. He served as the inspiration for the development of their own Postman called Frank (so called because of the process of franking letters). Frank was an ingenuous design which comprised a shelf held above the Roamer with a clothes peg suspended above it. In the children’s own words, “It was hard to get the peg to stay on. Now we can send the Roamer to someone who can take their letter off the shelf. We wanted it to be automatic but that was too hard”!

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Roamer Elephants

“Elephants” served as a focus for some interesting cross-curricular work by Imran, Tyrone, Imtiaz and Adal from Westminster Infants School, Handsworth. During the course of their investigations they discovered that Imran is as tall as a baby elephant: 127cms! Once Roamer had been changed into an elephant by the application of grey cloth and tubing the children developed a board game (in the shape of Africa) where they had to help the elephant escape from the poachers.

Robbie the Scottish Robot

JRobbie the Scottish Robackie Horsburgh, from Echline Primary School, West Lothian, tape-recorded the development of the design brief that resulted in Robbie Pick Roamer Robot. The children, Christopher Reid, Lynn Robertson, Struan Horsburgh and Colin Wylie discussed what attributes their robot ought to have to make him thoroughly useful as robots should be. Sketches were drawn and refined before Robbie was made. The result was a silver robot that had pulleys and containers and could be programmed to take things where you wanted them. The final display also included a well documented record book that showed how all aspects of the topic fitted into the Scottish National Curriculum, proving that not only did the children gain a great deal of enjoyment from the creation of a Roamer character, but that it was also very educational.

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Computer
The pre-school club Computer Kids provided the youngest finalists in the competition. At 3 and 4 years old Adam Jones, Hilbre Stafford and Francis Roberts showed that age is no bar to the development of creativity and computer proficiency. The children were captured on video researching and developing their butterfly design. Computer aided design and papier mache were the key components of their extravagant robot butterfly. To support the project Dr April Jones, their teacher, also created other Roamer characters depicting the progression of the butterfly from pupa to fully fledged adult.

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