NEW EXPERIENCE: Skennars Head students Reuben Adlington, 11, and Ben Masterson, 10, are programming robots to clean up waste and debris.
NEW EXPERIENCE: Skennars Head students Reuben Adlington, 11, and Ben Masterson, 10, are programming robots to clean up waste and debris. Cathryn Mclauchlan

Students and their robots head for Sydney

SKENNARS Head primary school students will take their robotics and programming skills to a national competition held in Sydney this weekend.

Holy Family Catholic Primary School sent two teams of talented maths students to the FIRST LEGO League state awards earlier this month and one of those teams has progressed.

Students use a LEGO robotics kit and software to program robots to complete missions.

Code from the computer program can be transferred to the LEGO robot via cable or over wifi.

Teacher Nick Houghton said the theme of this year's competition was Trash Trek.

It's all about finding ways to reduce, reuse or recycle waste.

"We have two teams of seven, iCode 21 and iCode 22 ... One team worked on a product they called Bio Gum, which is a biodegradable chewing gum," he said.

"The other team which won, they came up with Butt Back.

"It's a vending machine that dispenses cigarettes but when you return your butts you get a discount on a cigarette pack," Mr Houghton said.

If the winning team, iCode 22 wins the national competition this Saturday, they will proceed to an international level.

Reuben Adlington, 11, is part of the iCode 22 team.

He said robotics was a nice change to the curriculum.

"I just love working with robotics, it's such a new experience for us and we haven't had much time to work with such sophisticated things in our curriculum," Reuben said.

"It's easier than normal programming where you have to type all the text in."

Oliver Payne, 10, from iCode 21 said the class was great for boosting interest.

"It's just a really good thing to do to get your interest up on STEM subjects," he said.

Mr Houghton said he'd like to see robotics become a regular subject in the curriculum next year.

"It's preparing children for the workplace where about 75% of jobs will require a capacity in science, technology, engineering or mathematics," he said.

"We're hoping to become a leading school in the area of the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

"What we'd really like is for some of those skills to stay on the coast and for us to have some innovative businesses based around the skills they start learning here."


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