Robot Wars returns to March as Fenland schools take part in skills development project

PUBLISHED: 16:57 27 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:57 27 February 2020

Pupils got technical in March as part of county-wide skills development project ?Bits and Bytes?. Pictures: DAN MASON

Pupils got technical in March as part of county-wide skills development project ?Bits and Bytes?. Pictures: DAN MASON

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Schools in Fenland have once again battled it out to become Robot Wars champions to help develop their social and technical skills.

Pupils got technical in March as part of county-wide skills development project ‘Bits and Bytes’. Pictures: DAN MASONPupils got technical in March as part of county-wide skills development project ‘Bits and Bytes’. Pictures: DAN MASON

The third skills development project, ran by 20Twenty Productions' 'Bits and Bytes' project (BAB) at March Town Hall, welcomed two classes from the town's Cavalry Primary School and Burrowmoor Primary School, as well as teams from Guyhirn Primary and Elm Church of England School.

Pupils were tasked with designing robots to tackle different challenges in a bid to win a trip to Harry Potter Studios in August, including a gem and 'last flag standing' challenge.

Tim Nightingale, digital director at 20Twenty Productions, said: "It is a different activity with what schools are used to and as competitive, so I am pleased that they enjoyed it.

"It is about developing essential skills, teamwork, leadership and the project has been hugely successful."

Pupils got technical in March as part of county-wide skills development project ‘Bits and Bytes’. Pictures: DAN MASONPupils got technical in March as part of county-wide skills development project ‘Bits and Bytes’. Pictures: DAN MASON

Teachers were also impressed with the day and the benefits this project can bring to pupils both now and in the long-term.

Rune Webb, assistant head at winning team Cavalry Primary School, said: "They have put a lot of effort in. The children were buzzing before they got here!

"I think there will be interest in programming, having a problem and finding a solution. What we have seen is better teamwork and a mindset that they can get better at something."

Emma Hills, teaching assistant at Elm CoE School, added: "If it is boosting self-esteem, it is helping them towards their learning, and they can improve on whatever they are doing."

Pupils got technical in March as part of county-wide skills development project ‘Bits and Bytes’. Pictures: DAN MASONPupils got technical in March as part of county-wide skills development project ‘Bits and Bytes’. Pictures: DAN MASON

Last year, it was revealed that the current funding scheme ran by the Department of Education with Cambridgeshire County Council for BAB would expire this summer.

It has been earmarked that approximately £70-80,000 is needed to continue the programme, and Tim believes losing the project could have a negative impact on schoolchildren in the Fens.

He said: "The opportunity that has funded this area two years ago has now ended, so we are canvassing to local councillors and Steve Barclay to see if there are any areas for future funding.

"In terms of losing it, this is where we made different subjects come together, such as numeracy and technology.

Pupils got technical in March as part of county-wide skills development project ‘Bits and Bytes’. Pictures: DAN MASONPupils got technical in March as part of county-wide skills development project ‘Bits and Bytes’. Pictures: DAN MASON

"The most significant subject is STEM, but what has been so positive is seeing the girls flourish in breaking down that stereotype that STEM is also for girls.

"We will know by April 1 if any key budget holders will be able to keep it going for another six to 12 months. It is the way that it works."

Tim Nightingale addresses the teams at the Robot Wars event. Pictures: DAN MASONTim Nightingale addresses the teams at the Robot Wars event. Pictures: DAN MASON

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