Girls lead the way to national STEM competition


An all-female team are set to take on rivals from across the UK later this month for a place in the world final of a global robotics competition – after taking part in a competition held by New College Lanarkshire.

The team of third year pupils from Airdrie Academy have reached the UK final of the Vex Robotics Competition after their alliance with London school Henrietta Barnett won the regional heat, which was held at the College’s Motherwell Campus.

They will be joined by a team of first-year boys from Braidhurst, who were given the Design Award for their approach and documentation of their design and CAD work. The teams will now go on to the UK National Vex Robotics Championships at The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair in Birmingham – the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK.

New College Lanarkshire hosted the final regional heat to promote STEM subjects among young people, and this year 50% of students entered into the competition were female – showing the College’s commitment to encouraging diversity across subjects.

Under the guidance of teachers and mentors, the teams were challenged to use the VEX Robotics Design System to build innovative robots designed to score the most points possible in qualification matches, elimination matches and Skills Challenges. 

The Airdrie team in alliance with Henrietta Barnett won the tournament after competing against 11 teams from four local high schools including their own, St Ambrose, Calderhead and Braidhurst High.

Organiser of the Scottish heat and Engineering Lecturer at New College Lanarkshire, Lisa Nicholson, said:

“Getting to work with some of the most enthusiastic young people in Scotland and watching them develop in skill as well as maturity week by week has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career so far.

“Through our Vex club, I have also got meet some of the most dedicated teachers that support their pupils through too many hours to count every week, giving up their own free time.

“I would not have had this opportunity, if it had not been for the help and support I have received from the college – especially the Engineering Faculty.

“I would also like to thank North Lanarkshire Schools assisting with the organisation of the event.”

The teams through to the final will now face more than a dozen teams for the UK final of the world's largest and fastest-growing robotics competition for 11 – 18 year olds. 

More than 12,000 teams worldwide compete in more than 1000 tournaments over several months to qualify for the VEX Robotics World Championship – to be held this year in Kentucky, USA in April.

Braidhurst High and Airdrie Academy’s success in getting to the UK final is a major boost for New College Lanarkshire’s partnership with schools to nurture robotics skills among students and pupils.

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