School pupils put to the test in Business Class robot challenge

Teams of pupils from schools in Torfaen and Monmouthshire took part in a series of business challenges at a Careers Wales event held at Eden Education Centre in Abertillery.

The Business Class event was held in collaboration with Careers Wales, Business in the Community (BITC) and the Eden Education Centre and was sponsored by Melin Homes.

The event saw pupils from five schools from the Torfaen and Monmouthshire Business Class cluster competing against each other in a programming challenge aimed at promoting the importance of programming in the workplace.

Business Class is a BITC programme funded in Wales by the Welsh Government and delivered by Careers Wales aimed at forging links between employers and schools. 

This event was a culmination of a series of Business Class heats that took place in each of the five schools in June. These involved pupils taking part in a LEGO Education workshop, where each team built a robot out of LEGO and completed basic programming tasks.

In the final, students were tasked with building and programming a robot to complete one of the given challenges accurately and collect points within the allocated competition time of ten minutes. 

The tasks included programming the robot to activate a cannon, follow a track and press a button to activate a zip wire, race around a sports track without going outside the lines and collect items from a supermarket and deliver home. 

The pupils were also tasked with producing and delivering a PowerPoint presentation justifying their choice of challenge, reflecting on their work and demonstrating an understanding of what makes a successful team in the workplace.

The pupils who received the most points at the end of the day and crowned winners of the challenge were from Chepstow School. 

Points were awarded to teams based on their demonstration of skills ranging from communication to strategic thinking.

Nikki Chief Executive at Careers Wales, said: “Our aim in bringing these schools and businesses together was to give pupils an insight into the world of work and an opportunity to take part in a competition that enabled them to develop a range of transferrable skills."

“With the increasing presence of robotic systems in the workplace, this challenge developed pupils’ programming skills as well as increasing pupils’ knowledge of the importance of programming in the workplace."

Chris Edmondson, Chair of Melin Homes Board, said: “Events like these inform and prepare young people for the workplace by presenting them with fun, accessible challenges. It’s vital to engage pupils from a young age in order to benefit the future Welsh workforce."

“Partnerships like the one we have with Careers Wales are so important and provide opportunity for schools and pupils outside the classroom, inspiring enterprise skills and innovative thinking.”

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