Kate Bellingham

Check out Kate Bellingham’s Blog on how she helped the John Warner School robotics team achieve success at the Duxford LEGO competition and how she has inspired the next generation of Female Engineers –

http://www.katebellingham.co.uk/s-t-e-m/trying-out-being-an-engineer-in-residence/

Thanks Kate for all your help and input on all the projects we are doing here at John Warner! I hope we can get you involved again soon.

London VEX Regional 2, Highgate School

On Wednesday 19th February, Highgate School hosted the largest Regional VEX competition in the UK outside of the National final. The john Warner School had a strong representation with four teams out of the 21 taking part.

The early rounds were mixed for the John Warner teams with the sixth form and year 10 teams squabbling in a three way fight for top spot and the two year 9 teams bouncing up and down the league table as they came to terms with a few technical issues. Mid-way through the qualifying rounds, the year 9’s 3116C and the year 10’s 3116A robots came up against two east Barnet robots, beating them by 64 points to 27. This result sent 3116A to the top of the table and catapulted 3116C into the top 5. With a flurry of good results in the closing qualifying matches, the final table showed 3116A on top with 3116 in close second, both being the highest scoring robots in the competition. 3116C had recovered from a poor start to 5th and 3116B continued to have issues and sat in 12th place.

The selection matches saw 3116 teamed with Thomas Lord Audley, 3116A teamed with Highgate schools 6053 and the two year 9 teams selecting each other for an all John warner match up. No John warner teams took part in the early matches as they had qualified highly enough to receive byes. In their quarter final matches, all the teams were too strong for their opposition and eased through to the semi-finals. In the first semi-final, the 6th form team of 3116 faced off against the all year 9 team, a grudge match from the Herts regional event that had seen the 6th formers victorious. On this occasion, however, the year 9’s proved they had learnt how to deal with the 6th formers attacks and managed to go through to the final with two straight wins. In the other semi, the matches were much closer as two Highgate robots faced off against each other teamed with a John warner robot and an East Barnet’s Virus robot respectively. At this stage, the matches were so close that the only difference between the teams was the autonomous program that students had put into their robots. An unfortunate mistake in the Autonomous phase left the John warner/Highagte partnership with too much to do and saw 3116A crash out with a 2-1 loss.

The final teams were the two John Warner year 9 robots, in Red, versus Highgate, on home soil, and Virus from East Barnet, in Blue. A furious and hectic first bout saw the John warner teams edge towards victory, only for 3116B to suffer a re-occurrence of their lift problem and fail to bag a guaranteed 20 points, leading to a 12 point loss. A 2 minute time out was called to fix the robot then round two commenced. In the final seconds of the 2 minute game, a blue scoring object drops over the point’s line picking up a last gasp 5 points. No-one is entirely sure of the score until it come up on the large screen and John Warner have lost by just 3 points!

During the course of the day, Paul McKnight of VEX UK had been interviewing teams and assessing their engineering log books as well as their knowledge of robotics. Team 3116 demonstrated a clear and concise understanding of their robot and their programming skills and were awarded the Think award. On top of this the main prize of the day was the coveted Excellence award which carries the highest accolade in VEX robotics. Judged on performance over the whole event as well as the log book and design of the robot, this award also carries a qualification slot for the VEX world Championship held in Anaheim, California. The excellence shown by the John warner Sixth form team plus Daniel Rowe’s superb presentation gave them the edge to take this home and book their place in California in April.

A big thanks to Highgate for hosting the event and congratulations for booking their place in the Nationals next month and well done (yet again!) to Virus, I hope you enjoyed the knock out stages!

Wie von Geisterhand

Schüler aus Hoddesdon/Hertfordshire besuchen die Reclamschule, um mit den Robotikfans um Dr. Schmidt gemeinsam zu tüfteln.

Vom 9. bis 12. Dezember weilte eine 14-köpfige Delegation der Control Freaks der John Warner School am Reclam. Im Mittelpunkt des Besuches stand nicht, wie der Name der Roboterbauer aus der Kleinstadt nördlich von London irrtümlicherweise vielleicht vermuten lässt, die Leidenschaft andere zu kontrollieren, sondern das Beherrschen und Steuern selbst gebauter Roboter. Zunächst führten Jason Labrentz, Kevin Richter, Anton Breuer und Max Trapp den Gästen ihren Roboter des Systems VEX vor. Zunächst noch drahtgesteuert, konnte dieser schon sehr viel: alle erdenklichen Richtungsänderungen durchführen, den Arm mit Greifvorrichtung in die gewünschte Position bringen sowie Objekte aufnehmen, transportieren und diese an vorher definierten Stellen wieder absetzen beispielsweise.

Nachdem der Reclam-VEX mit Hilfe der Control Freaks (immerhin schon mehrmals Gewinner der VEX-Weltmeisterschaften) eine drahtlose Steuerung verpasst bekommen hatte, waren bei der Fahrt durch einen kleinen Parcours Konzentration und Geschick gefragt. Die Deutschen staunten nicht schlecht, als die Hoddesdoner „Profis“  mit einem driver (steuert das Gefährt) und einem coach (gibt dem Fahrer die nötigen Hinweise und Kommandos) operierten. Schnell hatten sie begriffen, dass man auf diese Weise den Roboter sehr viel genauer und zügiger manövrieren kann, und kopierten das System erfolgreich.

Neben dem Training mit dem VEX-Roboter, übrigens ein Geschenk der Hoddesdoner, hielt das Programm eine weitere challenge bereit. Drei englisch-deutschen Gruppen hatten die Aufgabe, jeweils einen kleinen Roboter bzw. dessen Mikrocontroller ARDUINO so zu programmieren, dass der „Robi“ ein auf dem Fußboden abgeklebtes Quadrat möglichst exakt abfahren konnte. Eine wirkliche Herausforderung, denn damit hatten weder Gäste noch Gastgeber wirklich Erfahrung. Englisch, Deutsch, Zeichensprache, deutsch- und englischsprachige Handbücher, hilfreiche Hinweise durch Dr. Uwe Schmidt (verantwortlich für das Ganztagsangebot Robotik an unserer Schule) sowie durch Stuart Higham (verantwortlicher ICT-Lehrer an der John Warner School) und viel Probieren brachten am Ende alle Vehikel tatsächlich zum Laufen. Wie von Geisterhand gesteuert, bewegten sie sich (mehr oder weniger) entlang der vorgegebenen Route.

Nach Einschätzung von Vanessa Lamb (Fachleiterin für moderne Fremdsprachen und Deutschlehrerin), die die Warner-Schüler ebenfalls begleitete, ein gelungener Auftakt für eine sich hoffentlich weiter entwickelnde Kooperation.

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MFL & Engineering Visit – Leipzig

On the 9th December a group of pupils from the John Warner School had the exciting opportunity to take part in a visit to our brand new partner school, The Anton Philipp Reclam Gymnasium in Leipzig, to work with a small group of German pupils on a robotics challenge ending in a friendly competition to see who had best been able to programme a small robot. Included in the visit was some all-important sight -seeing and shopping at the beautiful Christmas market. Part of the focus for the project was to enthuse a number of girls to get involved in engineering and therefore the trip was opened up to a selected group of year 8 and 12 students who had previously been involved in various engineering projects including the Rotary Technology Tournament, the First Lego League and VEX robotics through the East Barnet school consortium, supported by the Royal academy of engineers. The trip was also a useful tool to add gravitas to a number of grant and sponsorship applications including the Imeche who recently funded a girls in engineering project by granting £1000 to the School. The second focus for the trip was an award to the year 9 students who last year achieved World Final qualification by winning the UK Excellence award in VEX robotics. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the students were unable to attend the finals (in Anaheim USA) and were therefore invited to attend this trip as a reward for their hard work and achievement.

Our objectives on the trip fell into a number of categories;

• Cultural; to show students how German schools operate and to give them an insight into the level of engineering and computing that German students receive. As Germany is still considered a world leader in this area, it was a worthwhile experience for our students to make the comparison in the education they receive. By the end of the trip, our students considered that they were receiving a much better and deeper experience in engineering and computing than before the trip.

• Partnership; part of our goal is to share the experience that our students have had. As I believe that they have had a enriched experience it should be their duty to share this wherever possible to develop a culture of working together with other engineers. As no engineering project can be completed without collaboration, this is also a valuable lesson for our students. It is very likely that at some point in their engineering life they will be required to work with engineers from other countries as we are all now part of a global market.

• Challenge; our students have a competitive nature. Most developments are created under pressure of one kind or another. The spirit of competition allows students to develop skills in a safe but challenging environment whilst given them an arena in which to excel. Life experiences will be judged against others achievements and we are giving our students a framework in which to thrive.

On the first day, the pupils settled into their rooms before looking around the Christmas market. The markets were full of aromas. They were very festive for the season’s greetings. They enjoyed delicacies such as traditional crepes and other traditional German food. The Christmas markets are well beyond any that the students had seen in the UK and the whole outside nature of the festivities demonstrated the difference in culture between our two nations.

The second day was an early start and the students spent the first part of the morning having a tour around the Anton Philipp Reclam School. The tour was conducted by a student who was fluent in French and who claimed to have limited English skills; her English was, however, excellent. The second part of the morning was time for the German robotics group to demonstrate what they had achieved with the Kit kindly donated by Paul McKnight and ourselves. Having built a working robot since we last met, they required a little assistance with some of the technical aspect of the programming which our students were more than happy to help with. After this we accepted a driver challenge where all students worked in teams to move objects around a pre-designed course. Our students demonstrated a great team spirit and collaborative ethic which the German students were soon emulating. The challenge was undertaken in good spirit and friendships began to form between the groups. After this, the group spent some time in lessons with the German students before heading into the school canteen to share lunch.

Leipzig 1

The afternoon was spent looking around the historic city of Leipzig including a look at the Battle of Nations Monument which was built to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon at Leipzig in 1812 during the war of the sixth coalition. The resounding feature of this monument was the (over!) 500 stairs which we had to ascend to view the whole of Leipzig. Unfortunately the inclement weather made visibility a little hazy on the day. After dinner and a quick re-visit of the Christmas markets, it was off to bed ready for an early start on Wednesday.

At the start of a very packed third day, Dr Scmidtt introduced students to a programming platform called Arduino. As a new platform, the session took the form of a taught lesson to begin with before students became familiarised with the small programmable robots and began working on a challenge set by the German roboteers. The students worked in mixed English and German groups as well as having an even spread of Girls and Boys. The challenge highlighted a number of differences both in the students and the way in which they worked through a problem. Interestingly, three out of four of the groups found a common ground to work from and worked in a way that would not necessarily highlight any language differences between the groups. Using a programming language appeared to be a good mid-point for all the participants to default to when needing to co-operate. The challenge was fun, educational and all the students gained valuable experience in working together and programming.

Leipzig 2

After a lunch break in the school canteen, it was back into Leipzig central to look at some of the landmarks that the city had to offer. The highlight of the tour around the city was an ironic visit to the Stasi museum where communication between Mrs Lamb and the group was forbidden. For a museum highlighting the horrific conditions that East Germany suffered after World War II and the surveillance and lack of civil liberties, to forbid a teacher sharing knowledge about the museum pieces gave some of our historians cause to smile.

There was just enough time for a break in the market square before refreshing ourselves back At the hotel and travelling by Tram back to the school for an evening of performances by staff and students at the school. Although some of the production was in French, most in German and a little in English, the quality of the performances was superb and we even had the opportunity to talk to some of the performers and had a special show case from one boy who had entered and won a film competition.

The final morning allowed us time to buy some gifts for relatives and to say our farewell to axel who presented the students with some treats and a framed montage of all the students and staff working together on the projects. A short train ride to the airport then it was time to catch our flight back to Stansted.

What next? During our visit we handed the German pupils a challenge. This challenge is to build a robot capable of picking up and re-arranging several 6” balls and barrels in a taped off arena. The pupils will have until May 2014 to build and program their robot whilst our students do the same. In May we hope to invite the Group to England and they can demonstrate what they have learnt and fulfil the challenge at The John warner school. In the interim, a webpage has be designated to a discussion forum so the German pupils all tutors can converse with our students about technical aspects of the challenge and upload videos or photos as the project develops.

Leipzig 3

The John Warner School Eite Engineering Program (EEP)

An elite team of John Warner engineering students have put together a short clip in a bid to gain elite engineering status and receive the latest Lego EV3 kits to help support STEM at the John Warner School.

Please support all their hard work by clicking on the clip below and “liking” their video here;

http://www.eep-schools.org.uk/entries/?orderby=post_title&s=john+warner

The video itself can be seen here:

Thank you!

The John Warner Schools First Lego League experience

On Saturday 30th November, The John Warner School robotics team took part in their first Lego league robotics tournament at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Supported by Kate Bellingham and Jenny and Dave Smith from MBD.A, two teams set forth to try and conquer the best that the East of England had to offer.

The teams had spent six weeks working on a project which required them to not only design a fully automated Lego robot but also to consider a solution to a natural disaster that had occurred. The game itself was based around a tsunami which had created havoc and the robot had to clean up and rescue as many people as possible whilst making the arena “safe”.

Having undergone three gruelling interviews and presentations where the teams got to demonstrate their cohesion, presentation skills, research skills and organisation, they then had to complete three 2 1/2 minute matches in the arena.

The boys team did exceptionally well considering that they were programming as the day progressed and the girls team managed to complete several of the tasks even though their robot seemed to have a mind of its own!

At the end of the tournament, several awards were given in addition to every participant receiving a medal. The girls were over joyed to receive the “Rising Stars” trophy for the most promising newcomers amongst a very competitive field of experienced and first time participants.

FLL LegoThe girls receiving their “rising stars” award at the competition which was held at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Left to right, Abbie Browne, Atlanta Dolman and Dolsie Pyman.

Pupils at John Warner School in Hoddesdon successful at World Skills UK competition

PUPILS from a school in Hoddesdon have claimed two of the top three places in  a nationwide competition.The John Warner School in Stanstead Road sent two teams to the World Skills  UK event.

They competed against 30 competitors from across the country in designing,  building and programming a robot that had to collect bags and redistribute them  around an arena.

Four students from the school competed at the event last week – Javan Willock  and Jamie D’Ath made up one team and Daniel Rowe and James Griffin the  other.

After two days of intense competion, they found out the good news.

Jamie and Javan were awarded the bronze medal and James and Daniel were  awarded the World Skills UK mobile robotics gold medal.

John Warner’s subject leader for engineering, Stuart Higham, praised their  efforts.

He said: “This success is the result of many months of hard work, planning,  programming and perseverance from the two teams and a lot of their success can  be tied to the excellent work they did leading up to the competition.

“Their planning in particular helped them overcome unforeseen problems and  allowed them to adapt to the changing situation of the competition.

“The students demonstrated fantastic programming, building and design skills  and also have a superb portfolio of work which will help them gain university,  college or apprenticeship places when the time comes.

“World Skills UK is one of the highest arenas in which students can compete  within the UK and the students should be immensely proud of their achievement.”

The task was spread over two days with competitors having five chances for  their design to operate within the playing field.

The first of the two days was spent programming the robot and working on  code, while the second saw students use the code they had written to set the  robots on the path to success.

Daniel said: “We planned for every possibility and were able to use our  knowledge of what we were competing in to enable us to succeed in this  competition.

Javan said: “Working in a team of two was harder this time because I had to  step up and really know what I was doing instead of sitting back and rely on  someone else’s shoulder.”

James said: “We were off to a bit of a rough start.

“It was quite stressful but as we had planned well we believed in ourselves  and knew that we could get to the end.”

Read more: http://www.hertfordshiremercury.co.uk/Hoddesdon-and-Broxbourne/Pupils-at-John-Warner-School-in-Hoddesdon-successful-at-World-Skills-UK-competition-20131119152047.htm#ixzz2mFCyfJVT

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