Burren Junction Public School students win year five Top Coder in the Robotics Competition of the 2018 ANSTO Top Coder Competition

Burren Junction Public School students have been named the best year five coders in a state-wide coding and robotics competition.

More than 100 budding robotics engineers and coders took part in the 2018 ANSTO Top Coder Competition, with the grand final held at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights' campus.

Burren Junction Public School students, Jenna Hattingh and Emma Slack-Smith, took out 2018 Top Coder in the Year 5 Division of the Robotics Competition, where their robot successfully navigated an obstacle course filled with tracks and tasks.

This year’s competition was its biggest yet, seeing the introduction of a new Robotics Competition in addition to Scratch Coding Competition.

Students from almost 50 schools competed in nine heats and two finals – with students from Burren Junction travelling more than 2,400 kilometers to participate in the heats and the finals.

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Their long journey paid off, being crowned the winners of the Year 5 Robotics Competition.  

“ANSTO’s Top Coder Competition nurtures the critical STEM and digital literacy skills that today’s students must develop in order to succeed in tomorrow’s world,” Dr Adi Paterson, CEO of ANSTO, said.

“Developing Australia’s capabilities in science and technology will be critical for Australia’s productivity and to remain competitive on a global scale.

“We’re really impressed with the strength of the competition and the attention to detail from all teams, and look forward to seeing a bright future for these students.”

In what could be a changing of the guard, seven of the eight winners this year were female students.

“It is absolutely exciting to see that when girls are encouraged into coding and robotics, areas that are traditionally the domain of boys, they not only match but excel with their capabilities,” Dr Paterson said.

“We really hope that the careers of the future, the jobs that our Top Coder competitors may grow up to perform, will not only be driven by STEM subjects but are in industries with gender equity.

“ANSTO offers a range of education and outreach initiatives aimed at encouraging young girls and women to consider careers in STEM. We are committed to being part of the change from a young age.”

Students worked with coding and robotics coaches, honing skills, developing ideas, applying their technical abilities and using creative and critical thinking skills to iron out any bugs they encountered along the way.

In the Coding Competition, students were given the theme ‘Science in Space’ and had to first develop an idea for a game, animation, art, music or story, and then put their coding skills to work to using the programming language ‘Scratch’.

Students who participated in the Robotics Competition took part in a series of challenges, building their skills and competency in code and construction as they prepared for a final challenge at the end of the day.

“The competition requires students to use their ingenuity and creativity as part of their experience not only for the competition but so that they could understand what is required to become a future inventor or coding entrepreneur,” team leader of the ANSTO Discovery Centre, Rod Dowler said.

Schools participating in the Robotics Competition grand final were Baulkham Hills North, Berala, Burren Junction, Coledale, Maroubra Junction, Smithfield, Sutherland, Towradgi and West Pennant Hills.

Schools participating in the Coding Competition were grand final Bundeena, Burren Junction, Caringbah, Grays Point, McCallums Hill, Oatley, Penshurst West and Smithfield.

All budding coders and engineers interested in learning more are invited to join ANSTO’s Discovery Centre school holiday technology workshops, delivered by accredited educators with experience in science, engineering, programming and robotics.

For more information about ANSTO, go to www.ansto.gov.au.