Robots battle it out for precious silverware

Robots that can dance to a beat, kick goals with flair and save a Yowie in despair. Yes, it can only mean one thing. RoboCup is upon us again.

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney played host on Friday to the NSW Junior RoboCup finals. Secondary school students from across NSW competed in the three categories of soccer, dancing and rescue for the chance to win $1000 towards a trip the national finals in Melbourne next month.

All teams designed and built their robots from pre-fabricated LEGO ROBOLAB kits and programmed them with the accompanying Windows-based software.

The three categories consisted of soccer - two teams of two robots programmed to push a ball into the opposing team's goal; Dance - robots programmed to move with music playing; Rescue - the robots are to speedily retrieve a plastic "Yowie" from a designated rescue area.

"Students find building and programming the LEGO robots exciting, motivating and rewarding," remarked Allan Kreuiter, MC for the event. "Through participation in the competition, students extend their science, design and technology and mathematical skills while learning cutting edge IT hardware and software."

The winners for each division were Cranbrook Junior Boys for the Soccer, Lisarow High School for Rescue, and Abbotsleigh Anglican Girls Junior School for the Dance competition. All three teams will now compete in the national finals where the winners from that event will be eligible to compete in the World RoboCup Junior event held in Fukuoka Japan next year.

The number of students and schools now adopting robotics as a form of technology education is rising along with the interest in the RoboCup competition. "I expect this event to become huge within the next few years," said Brian Thomas, chairman RoboCup Junior Australia. "It's great to see the level of interest and support grow so quickly."

RoboCup Junior Australia is online at http://www.robocupjunior.org.au.

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