How Did World Cup Fever Win in Essex?

  • Published July 19, 2018
  • By Dave Catlin

RoamerWorld Cup Makes a Great Enrichment Day

The 2018 Football World Cup is over! We applaud the winners France and praise Russia for hosting a wonderful competition. The day after the final we took Roamer to Mark Hall Academy, Harlow, Essex. We held the RoamerWorld Cup with a group of students aged 12 to 15 as part of their enrichment day.

Educators think of Roamer as a robot for primary schools.  Once again our trip to Harlow showed how valuable it is for all ages: the key isn’t the student’s age – its Roamer’s ability to set them an appealing challenge.  The versatile robot attracted twenty-five secondary students who choose to work with the robot as part of their enrichment day.

We suggested three RoamerWorld Cup tasks to tap into the excitement created by FIFA’s World Cup.  One, a simple penalty shootout, got learners thinking about Newton’s Laws of motion and introduced Roamer’s speed control command.  In the second task pupils program Roamer to dribble around defenders (cans and cartons) and then score a goal.  This introduces the robot’s ability to change its unit of movement.  The third challenge involves opposition students placing the defenders in difficult positions – how can students program the robot to get past them?  We only had ninety minutes and the students had never met Roamer so the tasks concentrated on programming.

It’s the last week of term, not a normal lesson with students of a “difficult age”.  They had tin cans and tennis balls in a large hall – an ideal setting for horseplay.  Well, they bounced a few balls but their focus and time on task were impressive.  They wanted to complete the challenges.  They worked independently in teams and although only a few girls elected to attend the event we noticed the evenness in the participation.

When programming Roamer to weave their way through defenders each team wrote and tested a program.  They soon found out a better way: they broke the problem into subproblems and programmed and debugged each of these.

Pictures and video by student Alex Maison.

In the second task, most teams started programming Roamer to turn 90o but soon started to refine this as their estimation of angle and length improved.    The engrossed students showed a high-level of initiative in their ability to think their way to solutions.

Computing teacher Hester Wright commented:

“In general students had a very enjoyable experience.  They applied computational thinking skills like decomposition, and identifying patterns.  The Roamer was user-friendly and students got on with the robots straight away working out step by step how to get the robot to move from one point to the other.  Students were experts at solving problems by the end of the workshop.”

As for the students:

“We had so much fun!  The robots were cool and fun to work with”

“Trial and error were at the order of the day, we did not get it right the first time, but we kept going till we succeeded.”

“Where can I buy one?”

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