The best way to predict the future is to invent it, said computer scientist Alan Kay – and Reddford House students are making great strides in the right direction. In the recent Global Inspired Builds Robotics 2021 competition hosted by Fulham House School in London, UK, two Reddford House Grade 7 teams from South Africa were placed in the top 5 winning positions.
A team comprising members from all three Reddford Schools in South Africa, called Inter-Reddford, and a team from Reddford House Blue Hills in Midrand, each produced a robot that complied with the competition’s focus, which this year was on ‘enabling movement’.
Of Inspired Education Group’s 70 schools worldwide, 15 entered the Inspired Builds competition, with judging criteria that included intelligent design, general appeal, innovation, and quality of programming.
Competition organiser and Director of Digital Learning at Fulham School, Brendan O’Keeffe, said the competition produced a rich range of projects. “To have over a thousand participants from four continents was a brilliant opportunity for students to find a fresh sense of motivation for their STEM learning. This has been a real spark of joy and creativity in academic years that have tested the resilience of both staff and students.”
The global competition is in line with Inspired’s educational approach that’s based on lateral thinking, comprehension, and the innovative application of skills and concepts, all of which encompass empowering students to build successful careers in the fast-growing and crucially important STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) sectors, and thrive in a fast-changing information-driven and digital world.
The Inter-Reddford team entry, called Covid K9, is designed to test people’s temperatures, and respond with an appealing canine bark of approval if temperatures are normal, and with a growl if too high. K9 also features sanitiser for use before testing, a sensor to begin movement, and another to measure temperatures, and it also moves, sits, and wags its tail.
The Grade 7 students in the Inter-Reddford team were Ewan Curry (Reddford House Northcliff, Johannesburg), Bonolo Thaneng (Reddford House Blue Hills, Midrand) and Masotsha Mathivha (Reddford House The Hills, Pretoria East); and in the Reddford House Grade 7 Blue Hills team were Makaziwe Ntsele, Philile Mkhatshwa, and Kgatlhiso Moreosele.
The students were thrilled to be among the top 5 winning teams. Masotsha from Reddford House The Hills says, “It’s an amazing feat because I got to rank myself not only locally, but on a global stage, and see what I could do to eventually become the best.” Ewan from Reddford House Northcliff adds, “Even though there is a pandemic, this competition allowed us to compete and succeed, and to express ourselves. Not being able to see the other competitors’ robots made us work even harder. The hard work paid off.”
The team members all agreed that winning was like a dream come true for them, and that through the competition, their coding skills improved, they learnt a lot about teamwork, and they overcame challenges together.
The robotics teachers at the participating Reddford House schools, are extremely proud of the major achievements by the teams. Ryan Zulch, Reddford House The Hills, says he loved watching the students get together and brainstorm ideas. “It was even better to see them celebrate when their ideas came to life. That’s the beauty of robotics – actually watching your theoretical ideas come to life and bringing joy to children while they learn.”
David van Leeuwen from Reddford House Blue Hills admits that at the start he was a bit concerned that the learners might not be up to the task. “But they proved me wrong. Straight out of the gates, the Grade 7s impressed me with their creativity. It was wonderful to see them working together, sharing ideas and constructing amazing designs. I quickly learnt to trust my students and to give them space and opportunity to grow and learn. They did an amazing job and the projects they produced are innovative and ground-breaking.”
Ravi Nadasen, CEO of Inspired Education in South Africa, congratulated all the students on their significant achievements. “We know that our students put in long hours of hard work and problem solving to deliver these winning projects. We’re committed to encouraging all of our students to embrace their coding learning as it will strengthen critical thinking skills, enhance teamwork, develop logical and computational thinking, and will also boost analytical thinking. It pays dividends in many aspects of life, while also offering exciting opportunities to compete on global platforms. We look forward to seeing what our teams will come up with next!”