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Inverness academy pupils beat other schools across the UK by lifting award at national competition

By Rachel Smart

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The winning team from Millburn Academy.
The winning team from Millburn Academy.

A team of Inverness secondary school pupils have beat their peers across the country by lifting the award at a national competition.

The team of six from Millburn Academy were taking part in the final of the STEM Challenge competition organised by Global Underwater Hub.

Secondary school pupils from across the United Kingdom were in Aberdeen recently for the culmination of the annual nationwide competition, which tests the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills of 13 and 14-year-old pupils.

The initiative tasks the youngsters to design, build, code, operate and market a small, wheeled model remotely operated vehicle (ROV) made using LEGO SPIKE sets that enable the development of programable mechanical robots using various LEGO parts.

The Millburn Academy team faced opposition from pupils of St Ninian’s High School in Giffnock near Glasgow, Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate in York, Manchester’s Middleton Technology School, Chilton Trinity School located in Bridgwater, Somerset, and St Oscar Romero Catholic School from Worthing in West Sussex.

To reach the final, each school won a regional heat where they competed against up to nine other schools. This year, heats were held in Inverness, Glasgow, Blyth, Manchester, Bristol and Southampton, and saw participation from over 320 pupils at nearly 50 schools.

A panel of judges made up of individuals working in the underwater industry decided the winners. Along with marking the teams on the design and functionality of their creations, the judges also looked at how the pupils had worked together throughout the day, and the quality and delivery of their marketing presentations that concluded the competition.

Neil Gordon, Global Underwater Hub chief executive, said: “Once again, the final of our STEM Challenge competition was a really inspiring couple of days for those involved, with the pupils and adults all taking something from it.

“The whole competition really opens their eyes to the application of STEM skills in the workplace, and the technologies involved in the underwater industries and career opportunities this offers.

“The creativity, skills, knowledge and can-do attitude shown by all the pupils as they built, coded, tested and then presented their model ROVs was outstanding. As ever, the hard work put in by the teams throughout the day in all aspects of the challenge meant that it was an extremely close competition, with the Millburn Academy team finishing just ahead of the other schools.”

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