On the 25th of September MerseySTEM were overjoyed to launch their (now legendary) Robotics Challenge. Five schools from the local area battled it out in the first of eight heats; Halewood Academy, All Saints Catholic High School, Kirkby High School, Fazakerley High School and Knowsley Park. After a day of pulverized processors, ruptured relays, severed struts and mangled motors, it was All Saints Catholic High School who took the title. Congratulations to them! MerseySTEM in conjunction with Liverpool Enterprise Partnership & Liverpool City Region Apprenticeships Hub held the first of eight Robotic Challenge heats at Knowsley Community College, sponsored by Getrag. A further five heats are available to enter for other schools in the Merseyside area. Each challenge sees teams of students from local schools take part in a full-day event, building their robots in the morning and pitting them against each other in the afternoon in a series of matches. The winning team progresses to the Liverpool City Region Grand Final competing against schools from across the Merseyside region. All teams are supported by MerseySTEM, local professionals and STEM Ambassadors to help build their machine. MerseySTEM Managing Director Michelle Dow said, “I love our Robot Challenges, it’s great that we don’t see our competitors faces for most of the morning as they are heads down, focused on building the best robot on the day. Questions come thick and fast: What do I do with this? How does this work? Can this be my own design? If you ask a 14 year old what advanced manufacturing or engineering is, usually the answer is ‘Er dunno – a mechanic?” “The robot day gives us the opportunity to change perceptions, challenge stereotypes, promote teamwork and provide careers advice to students using real role-models from our city. Robot Wars are nothing new, but whatever you say – robots are cool!” “We had an unbelievable final today between Halewood Academy and All Saints, it was too close to call. All of our teams built amazing bots and at times the students were on the edge of their seats! A fantastic effort from them all.” Simon Reid, Sector Manager for Advanced Manufacturing, Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: “As the City Region’s economy continues to improve, more companies are facing a shortage of skilled workers, especially in Advanced Manufacturing. Now more than ever our future depends on a workforce with the necessary talents and training for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and the best way to ensure a steady supply of workers is through education. That is why initiatives such as the Robotics Challenge are so important; they provide an opportunity for our young people to really engage with the possibility of working in this sector and hopefully encourage them that Advanced Manufacturing is an exciting and rewarding career.” The MerseySTEM Robotics Challenges enables students to understand a variety of design, science and engineering principles and develop leadership and problem solving skills. The events aim to inspire and excite students’ interest in robotics & to demonstrate the practical application of mathematics and engineering. The winning school from each heat receives a ‘VEX Competition Lab Kit’ worth over £750, as well as support from VEX Robotics with the opportunity to enter a further competition that culminates in a Grand Final at Big Bang North West 2016! Winners also go through to the Liverpool City Region Grand Final to compete against the other heat’s champions later in the Winter term!