STUDENTS took on a robotic challenge at a Portland school with help from professional engineers.

Year 9 pupils at Royal Manor Arts College were given a glimpse into the world of engineering problem solving, working alongside engineers from Bournemouth University.

The day was set up by Chris Newman, head of the Design and Technology department, to complement work being done by year nine students in their lessons.

The students have started GCSE courses this year and are being offered a series of taster activities to promote boys and girls thinking about engineering as a possible career, in an initiative called Aim Higher.

The problem-solving activities involved working in small groups to solve challenges using high-tech programmable construction kits.

Mr Newman said: “We’re encouraging students to consider engineering as a future career.

“Around 55 of our Year 9 pupils took part in the Aim Higher programme.

“After a briefing, they worked together in groups of six to make robotic vehicles that could complete tasks and avoid obstacles.

“Scenarios included delivering animal feed and rescuing certain kit from an environment not suited to human beings.”

He added: “Robots are traditionally used in unmanned space craft and bomb disposal.

“The work allowed students to develop a wide range of real world skills, which included building and computer programming which are increasingly relevant in modern designing and manufacturing.”

Student Dylan Tuffin, who is considering a career in engineering, said: “This was a great day, different to lessons because you get to work in a different way, in groups it’s better and the robot kits were good fun.”

Emilly Hunt, who has been at the school for three years, said: “Engineering tasks like this are really interesting and make you think.

“I’m definitely looking forward to doing some more work like this.”

Year nine students Neve Walker, Tem Griffiths and Qi Roy were part of the winning team – they will have a chance to take part in a further championship event later in the year at Bournemouth University.

What the pupils think

YEAR nine student Neve Walker, above left, said: “The Aim Higher work was a really useful and fun experience.

“It was great to work in a team on something so different to the usual school day.

“My favourite part was when our robot successfully completed the basketball task on its first go.”

YEAR nine student Tam Griffiths said: “I’d like to study robotics as a career.

“This project has made me even more certain that it’s what I want to do.”

YEAR nine student Qi Roy said: “Maths and Physics are two of my favourite subjects.

“I found the programming part of this challenge very interesting.”