The John Warner School offers students from all backgrounds and abilities the opportunity to be part of the JWS Robotics team. The Team has built a reputation over 8 years as being at the fore front of UK School robotics having created robotic solutions on a number of platforms to meet a wide range of challenges. The team is wholly inclusive, allowing students to form their own groups who then operate under the guidance of four dedicated members of staff and the support of industry volunteers. Students are welcome to spend as much or as little time as they want and the resources are available for students every day before school, at lunchtime and after school as well as during holiday build camps and a large number of educational visits to regional, national and international events.
The team provides resources for up to 10 competition robots with each robot being designed, programmed and assembled by a team of between 6 to 8 individuals. A competition team requires a minimum of three members to attend the event. The demographic of our group contains students from all learning abilities, cultural backgrounds and between 25% to 30% girls.
The team are encouraged to follow four principles when participating in the robotics program; Think, Create, Build, Amaze – These are the key elements of how we get students to engage with the project and how they face the challenge of creating their own competitive robot. Each element is structured to cover the full design process in four different phases:
Think Phase – Scientific and engineering concepts that support the project phase. It provides a foundation for understanding the topics and successfully completing the projects
Create Phase – 3D solid modeling, digital prototyping, and visualization using Autodesk Inventor. This phase supports the creative process of designing and developing an idea using computer aided design tools, nominally Autodesk Inventor. Students are able to share their ideas online through social media and formal communities and gain insight and knowledge from sharing ideas globally
Build Phase – Hands-on assembly of the robots. Students use the VEX structure, control and power elements to build subassemblies and construct a working robot. This phase validates the conceptual knowledge learned in the previous Think and Create phases
Amaze Phase – Classroom challenges, the engineering notebook, and classroom presentation. Using the completed robot, students have fun testing the limits of their robot through various challenges. The engineering notebook and classroom presentation provide students with business skills required in the real world. The challenges are suitable for students in all age brackets of secondary education and has been proven from year 7 up to year 13.
The four phases provide girls in particular with many different facets of the engineering process. The Think phase provides the background information to empower girls to be successful in this project and gain confidence. The Create Phase provides them the opportunity to develop their ideas with technology using their artistic talents. The build phase allows working together to construct their robots and to realise their designs. The Amaze phase is the culmination of the project where the team gets to talk about their creation and experience as well as presenting it to judges from related industries.
The project sits well within the local community allowing students to come into contact with a mentor, sponsor, lead for team development, people from industry and other like-minded students at competitions and via social media on a global scale.
The recorded part of the project and perhaps the most valuable to the student is the engineering notebook. This is broken down into key parts which allow the students to keep accurate record of their progress, test results and discoveries over the course of the build. Each folder is assessed on merit following strict rubrics and contributes to students being eligible for awards in excellence, design and creative thinking. The folder gives students the opportunity to explore and demonstrate their ideas as shown in the word art above.
General Achievements – The team has seen a high number of successes since it was formed in 2010 including 8 National Championships, four times UK Skills Mobile Robotics winners, Multiple regional success in VEX, Rampaging Chariots, Lego League, MBDA Robot Rumble and qualification for the VEX World Robotics Championship on 15 separate occasions which makes the team arguably the most successful school based UK robotics team. The team have previously reached finals in the USA against a US Navy backed team.
Success Stories – Over the duration of the program, over 200 students have had direct involvement. The benefits on those individuals has been more focus in lessons, more involved in school as a whole, an increase in ambition, life choices and career opportunities, exposure to the industry and likeminded people, an understanding of how engineering affects them, better qualifications at GCSE, A-level and direct opportunities to gain Crest awards and apprenticeships or university places
~Jamie D’Ath~ Was offered the opportunity to participate in the UK Skills mobile robotics competition having worked with computers and graphic design. She won a bronze medal and met engineering apprentices who convinced her that engineering was a worthwhile career. She has completed her apprenticeship as a trials engineer with MBDA and has won the “IET Mary George Apprenticeship Award” and Inspire Women Award “Apprentice of the year”.
~Daniel Rowe~ Daniel suffered from dyslexia and had poor grades in school but was a very good swimmer and wanted to pursue a career in sport. He was selected to take part in the UK Robot rumble event and won the competition in a team of 6. This transformed his career path and he is now studying Electronic engineering at Hertfordshire University.
~David Denman~ David began his secondary education at Cheshunt school but transferred to John Warner when he met our team at a regional event. His fascination with robotics has lead him to participate in the light weight division of robot wars and also gain an Extended Diploma in engineering BTEC Level 3 that has gained him and apprenticeship at a local engineering company.
~Javan Willock~ Javan was a premium pupil with a complicated history but through his involvement in robotics within the school was highlighted as gifted and talented. Javan represented the UK at the VEX World Championships, gained high level grades in A level Maths and Engineering and has gone on to study Engineering at Southampton university.
“VEX Education is dedicated to providing engaging and fun student experiences that enable individuals to reach their full potential while they develop the knowledge and skills vital to success in the 21st Century. Given today’s global challenges compared to the rest of recorded history, there has never been an age with a greater need for new scientists, engineers and problem solving leaders. Recent breakthroughs in chemistry, medicine and physics have revealed a new set of challenges and created even greater opportunity for problem solving through technology. This underscores a dramatic challenge: there are not enough students choosing related paths to meet that global demand. Mixing the excitement and motivation associated with competition and real-world applications of mathematics and science concepts through the use of the engineering design process, we focus on addressing current educational and societal needs on many levels.”
Feedback comments from students who have been part of the team have included; “Becoming a Role Model is a key part of what we are aiming for and has provided material for college and university applications”. They agree that they are encouraged to be dependable, honest, loyal, hardworking, friendly, creative, intelligent, caring, sincere, modest, inspiring, trust worthy, show perseverance, to take responsibility, included, show respect, a peer mentor, bring out the best in everyone and become an effective communicator. All these attributes have contributed to our success, encourages new members to the school and helps us to build our community with our local STEM day.