Robocup Jr 2022

On Friday 29 and Saturday 30 of July, a selection of Churchlands Primary School students rubbed shoulders with hundreds of students from all over Perth, to take part in the Robocup Jr 2022. Congratulations to all involved as it was another momentous year for the school at the Challenge and some great ‘personal bests’ were achieved.

Firstly I would like to congratulate all students who dedicated their Tuesday afternoons (as well as some lunchtimes) throughout the first semester to work with their teams in preparation. This year, with even less time due to COVID, our teams worked extremely efficiently to become familiar with the robotics concepts and programming of their machines. There was amazing growth shown over these weeks as students steadily improved their understanding and coding skill (and resilience) to be ‘fit-and-ready’ for this year’s comp.

In the end, we entered 3 teams this year. Our two year six teams decided to continue last year’s work in the Line Rescue Primary competition, while our brave year five team took on the challenge of the Open Maze Rescue.

The Air Conditioners, including Charlie B, Ethan P and Jordan S from year 6 were our ‘team-to-beat’ this year leading into the comp. Their tireless hard work and innovative thinking allowed them to be most prepared for what lay ahead.  Led by Charlie B, their robot was looking lean and was driven by some very solid and practical code. Unfortunately in the final stages of preparation, and again on the day, they were faced with some technical difficulties which hindered their attempts at scoring as many points as they would have liked. In the end, it was a disappointing event for the Air Conditioners, as it just did not go their way on the day. As the challenge is about so much more than winning and losing, they should be very proud of their achievements as they worked collaboratively, with spirit and great knowledge and understanding of junior robotics. Well done team!

The Aerodynamics, led by Jun C, Jaanhvi I, Melih D and Connor W, also worked extremely hard in the lead-up to the competition. While not completely as prepared as their local rivals, their experience from practising for the 2021 event paid off in the end. With a little luck on their side and a solid, working robot, the ‘Dynamics’ proceeded to pick up large amounts of points, round after round. By the end of the competition on the first day, the CPS representatives were in 4th placing and were invited back for the finals on Saturday – a feat not accomplished by any CPS Line Rescue team in the past. While the Aerodynamics endured a  tough day on Saturday, not too dissimilar to their Air Conditioner friends the day before with technical difficulties, they walk away from the comp extremely proud, making history for the school. Congratulations team, you will always be the first to have made it to the second day!

While both teams experienced the highs and lows of junior robotics over the days of the Robocup, the most pleasing aspects from a mentor’s perspective were seeing the students collaborate so well, sharing their ideas (even between schools), and the resilience demonstrated in the face of authentic disappointment. These can often be hard life lessons, but it was great to see our students demonstrate these important skills strongly.

Finally, our final team, the year 5 Robo People!, including Jaeden V, Aran K and Aarna H had put in a solid preparation getting ready for Open Maze comp, and as they knew they were in for some stiff competition, were looking forward to having a go, and learning a lot from the event. Being an open competition, the team was pitted against a range of other primary schools and high schools as they attempted to program their robot Evie to get around a walled maze and pick up points for hitting checkpoints and rescuing ‘victims’ along the way. The team had a slow but solid start to the event, picking up small amounts of points on a couple of rounds, leaving them in the mix. As the open event is a smaller competition, all teams were invited back on Saturday to continue their progress which is when the Robo People’s fortune took a turn. Making a few minor adjustments to the make-up of their robot and the code, the team began to steadily pick up points in the final preliminary rounds. By the end of Saturday’s ‘runs’ they had accumulated some good scores and to everyone’s amazement, were now sitting 4th on the table, and subsequently invited to participate in the ‘playoff’ round. Up against 3 high school teams, all from Sacred Heart College, the team were ready to ride their luck and give it their best shot. Right from the start, the playoffs could not have gone any smoother for the year fives, as their Evie continue to drive from checkpoint to checkpoint while the other more experienced teams ran into trouble. By the end of the final round they had moved themselves up into the third position and therefore earned themselves the bronze medal, and an outstanding result – and the very first Primary School entrant to do so that the WA-based events. While unexpected going in, huge congratulations go to the team for showing great persistence to continue to improve – a great reward for effort!

Finally, thank you to all parents for supporting the program by encouraging your children to be interested, and getting them to and from classes and the event. I wish all the year 6 students the best moving forward and hope to see them representing their high schools at Robocup in the future. To the year 5s, you have made great progress this year, including some amazing results so I am really hopeful that you will choose to continue your journey next year.

Luke Johnson