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The Basildon Academies

STEM skills and programming projects for talented Year 11

This week, a group of Year 11 students had a unique opportunity to spend an action-packed day learning and developing engineering and coding skills.

The series of challenges were led by Curriculum Coordinator Nick Acton, representing technology solution Company JTRS and 'Make Happen'. In addition to leading and coaching students, Nick was able to use his wealth of expertise and experience to inspire and guide students through the tasks.

Students worked in groups using construction kits and tablets installed with coding software. Their initial task was to design and build an autonomous vehicle. Once completed, there followed a series of challenges where the vehicles had to be to programmed to perform specific commands.

Participants could choose which functions they wanted their vehicles to carry out but had to explain their decisions first to prove they could execute the appropriate programmes.

Each vehicle was fitted with an ultrasonic sensor to measure distance and students applied their maths skills to calculate the scale, programming this into the software to carry out accurate commands. Using trial and error, they were able to record the distance the vehicles travelled. Analysis of algorithms was used to determine whether re-adjustments to the coding were needed and the adjustments were then programmed into a series of coding commands.

A plethora of skills were developed in the course of the day, which was focused not only on the more obvious careers within engineering and programming, but also any role requiring communication skills, collaboration and team building.

“The students showed a huge amount of perseverance and were fearless in their approach to all tasks!” Nick Acton

“Today was fun! We used our imagination and creativity and I learned new things about programming.” Lukasz M

“I really enjoyed the trial and error area of the task. It made us work as a team using our intuition.” Taite G

“The last task was the most challenging. There were a few complications with the coding, but in the end, we pulled through. I had a great team today and I have learned a lot about programming. I enjoyed it and found it really interesting.” Alfie I

“It was tremendous fun and hugely challenging, but it was worth it in the end!” Cordelia L

“I found the day great fun and very interesting. It has helped me further my understanding of programming and engineering.” Charlie D