Clubs profile: Robotics and computer programming

The importance of robotics and computer programming is becoming more and more obvious as we head into the brave new world of driver-less cars and ‘super’ smart phones. It therefore seems essential that we give our students every opportunity to learn and develop their skills in this area.
Some of this obviously falls within the remit of students academic lessons but it was felt that the schools clubs program had an important role to play in areas of study that are important for student’s future knowledge and skills.
The robotics and programming club was created for just this reason and headed up by our physics teacher Dr Oli Chapman who has a keen interest in both programming and robotics. Much like a kid has an interest in sweets when they are in a sweet shop.
Torbay has history with robotics because it has featured in two of our previous enrichment weeks when we had the robotics department from Plymouth University and a group from a tech company do programming performances with their robots and we have always found students to be really fascinated by robots and programming.
The Robotics and computer programming club is exactly as it sounds and has used two amazing but commonly used pieces of kit Lego Mindstorm and Rasberry Pi.
The Lego Mindstorms series of kits contain software and hardware to create customizable, programmable robots. They include an intelligent brick computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors, and Lego parts from the Technic line to create the mechanical systems. Mindstorm provides a graphical programming environment; basically you build a program via dragging-and-dropping components.
The Raspberry Pi is a series of small single-board computers developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools. The original model became far more popular than anticipated, selling outside of its target market for uses such as robotics. Raspberry Pi is a little more serious than Lego because it is deals with more serious programming and is therefore a very real educational tool that students can learn a great deal from.
Students in this club are given an amazing opportunity to learn about the knowledge and skills that are going to shape the future of our world perhaps more than anything else and it’s amazing to see them able to do it in such an exciting and fun way.