After our very successful results at the Vex Robotics Nationals in Auckland and qualifying for the World Championship, that was eventually cancelled due to Covid-19, we were on track for another successful year.
The enthusiasm the students returned with from the Nationals resulted in the BHS Robotics Club growing its numbers again. With 37 students we have four Vex V5 teams (robots seen above) and four Y9 Vex IQ ( a Lego-type version) teams. We compete about twice a month against schools around Canterbury. Currently we have seven schools involved with about 12 teams. The events calendar can be found here and anyone can attend. Burnside consistently competes in the final rounds with the team that came second in the Nationals winning the last two regional competitions.
After our success at the Nationals in Auckland in February, and the increased number of students we urgently needed new gear. We only had two of the latest versions of the robots and to be competitive we needed four. We applied for funding from The Tait Foundation and with Mr Holstein's help we were able to secure $6000 in funding for a really worthwhile course. We bought two super competition kits and these examples can be seen below. The PTA have also funded us over the years with various robotics resources to complement our kits. We can never be successful without the ongoing support of these groups and the school, and it is hugely appreciated by all the students.
The importance of Vex Robotics as a vehicle to develop STEM is seen as a way to address the need for more new innovators, thinkers and problem solving leaders. The goal of Kiwibots’ (the national trust, running the Vex Robotics program in New Zealand) is “to create engaging, affordable, and powerful solutions that immerse students in STEM through the excitement of building and programming robots." Robotics is one of the most important ways to develop STEM skills with a combination of science, math, building, programming (RobotC), teamwork and driving skills. Students also develop their thinking skills through robotics.
Burnside High School has been the leader in Canterbury for many years in the Vex Robotics environment. Eric Song, a previous Burnside High School student seen above, had a pivotal role in the development of the club and is now supporting schools as a referee and advisor.
Over the last two years we have developed a strong community with the other schools in the group. Since December last year St. Andrew's College hosts the regional competitions with the great advantage that the field is permanently set up and students from all schools are able to practise outside normal school hours. Growing together, as a group, enables us to develop those strong relationships and learning with and from each other.
This is an extremely valuable program with a great bunch of students. Burnside's success are also largely a result of the extremely dedicated and enthusiastic robotics leaders: Nathma Kalubovilage Don, Aarya Advilkar, Braden Sole, Alex Cutforth and Aditi Sharma.