BT Adastral Park, Suffolk, to host national finals of junior robotics programming competition.

BT Adastral Park, Suffolk, to host national finals of junior robotics programming competition.

Top junior programmers to test their skills at BT’s Suffolk research HQ 
More than 50 teams of schoolchildren from across the UK will come to BT Adastral Park in Martlesham, Suffolk on Friday March 28th, to battle to be the first UK RoboCupJunior Cospace rescue champion. 

The competition requires teams to programme virtual robots in a rescue scenario, devising search strategies and trying to gain as many points as possible by finding coloured objects whilst avoiding traps and obstacles. The scenarios reflect the challenges faced by real-life search and rescue robots, for example finding people trapped in collapsed buildings. The virtual robots compete against each other and the clock to gain as many points as possible in the time allowed. 

The Junior Cospace competition, introduced to the UK this year by BT, forms part of the international RoboCup challenge which is intended to drive progress in robotics and artificial intelligence worldwide. The competition was open to students aged 8-18 across the country, with both primary and secondary categories. The winning team will gain the opportunity to represent the UK at the RoboCup 2014 international championship which takes place in Brazil later in the year. 

Pat Hughes, Education Manager at BT, said: “The standard of entries has been staggeringly high and I can’t wait to see the competition live on the day. Adastral Park is the home of BT’s research and innovation, so I’m pleased that we’re able to host so many bright young people at the final here in Suffolk. We hope to make the event even bigger next year. 

The competition is a fantastic way to get students involved in programming and computational thinking. As well as introduction to programming, the competition encourages students to analyse the effectiveness of different strategies and develops mathematical skills and thinking.” 

Josie Hughes, who Chairs the RoboCup Junior International Organising Committee said “its really great that the CoSpace challenge has engaged so many young people in its very first year in the UK and BT have played a big part in making this happen. The format of running training days leading up to the Championship has really driven participation by schools and their pupils and is an approach that other countries are now looking to copy” 

BT is taking an active role supporting the roll out of the new Computing curriculum and is committed both to supporting teachers and encouraging young people to get involved in IT, Science and Technology through curriculum enhancement and enrichment activities. 

One such activity which the company has introduced to the UK this academic year is the CoSpace programming competition. Through taster days for schools across the Region and a teacher day, all run at Adastral Park, well over 500 young people and 50 teachers have experienced the CoSpace challenge.