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The Basildon Academies

Space Race

Six of our budding engineering enthusiasts were recently invited to take part in a competitive Lego ‘Space Challenge’ at Ormiston Park Academy.

Organised by ‘Make Happen’ and technology specialist ‘JTRS’, our students worked in two teams of three, competing against each other and participants from other local secondary schools. The teams were being judged on their success in programming, engineering and, of course, that all-important teamwork.

Charyl, who took part in the challenge, explains, “Students were tasked to build Rovers to conquer ‘Space Race’ activities, such as rescuing astronauts and activating space stations.”  The tasks got progressively harder over four stages: Building a scale model of the planetary surface exploration vehicle (the ‘rover’); building a new rover or adapting the original one to enable it to collect asteroids; working out how to generate enough power so the rover could lift a satellite and finally, toughest of all, working out how to pick up astronauts and take them back to the ‘rocket base’.  Charyl is thrilled with her team’s success on the last challenge, saying proudly, “our winning team were the only ones to do this successfully.”

The winning team ‘Spectrum’, made up of Charyl, Lukasz and Cordelia received a set of ‘Mindstorms Technical Lego’ for the school and a place in next year’s grand final. They felt that being able to master all the various elements of the challenge was the key to success, as Cordelia says, “I think the tasks really helped my communication skills”, and Lukasz adds, “It enabled us to think logically and practice problem solving skills. We learned about programming and precision engineering.”

‘Team Basildon’ also did extremely well, achieving joint third place and narrowly missing out on a place in the final.  Their team, made up of Alfie, Jamie-Leigh and Stefan, also felt they took a lot out of the experience.  As Stefan says, “I enjoyed the competition because it involved lots of programming activities and I was able to learn new and interesting things.”  Alfie adds, “I enjoy anything related to engineering and building. The design activity was a big plus for me.” 

So what did the students think about the competition overall? Charyl, for one, can’t wait to do it all again!  She says, “It was great day and we had so much fun. I’m sure competing in the final will be even more of a challenge!” 

For these students, their first small steps on the space challenge could be giant leaps into a future in engineering...