Merewether Meteors Rip into Robotics

Having robots perform the Mexican wave and completing Year 9 maths problems while only in Year 5 are just some of the skills the Merewether Meteors picked up at the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Competition recently.

The rookie squad of 10 students, aged 11 and 12, from St Joseph’s Primary School, Merewether recently competed at regional and state competitions in which teams had to build and program a robot to complete tasks around an obstacle course resembling outer space.

The ‘Into Orbit’ competition is broken down into three components: robot, project and core values.

Meteors team member, Molly Boyle, 11, said despite more boys than girls competing, she had loved robots and ‘coding’ since being introduced to the subject in Year 3.

“The challenge is getting the robot to do what you want it to do and experimenting with what it can and can’t do,” she said.

“If your robot isn’t working properly you have to find out what code is missing. Using the colour sensors we can even get the robots to do a Mexican wave.”

Although the regional qualifier, held in Gosford on November 21, was the Meteors first robotics competition, the team walked away with a research award in the project category.

Meteor Cailen Moran, 11, who first learned about robotics and coding when he spent 18 months in Sweden, said the team created a new supplement for astronauts to take so as to minimise the physical impact of long term space travel.

“The idea was to give a supplement to astronauts to reduce bone and muscle loss,” Cailen said.

Liquid would not have worked so the Meteors decided on a tablet made up of protein, creatine, calcium and vitamin D.

“We went to a supplement store and discussed what should be in it; the judges loved that we had talked to professionals and our level of detail,” Cailen said.

Their efforts earned the Meteors a place at the NSW State Championships, held in Wollongong on November 24, where they were the youngest team competing against students as old as 15. Team coach, St Joseph’s kindergarten teacher, Stephanie Colvin said although the Meteors had not progressed to the National Championships, they were awarded another trophy at State and she couldn’t be prouder of them.

“Robotics and coding is all about problem solving and critical thinking; it is such a valuable thing,” Ms Colvin said. “These year 5 kids are doing year 9 maths and aren’t even aware they’re doing it.”

St Joseph’s has another robotics team, the Merewether Martians, made up of year 6 students that has also performed strongly at Lego League competitions in recent times.

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