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SUPERPOWERED: colleagues of the future

April 2023 

Excited doesn’t nearly explain how I felt when I heard that the Braunton Academy FIRST LEGO league team, sponsored by our White Cross project, had overcome the local competition to win the regional North Cornwall and Devon LEGO league final. Even better, the team would then travel to the National finals in Harrogate, this month (April 2023), to compete against the best teams in the country.

The FIRST LEGO league is a programme to engage and inspire students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) topics. It involves a competition to build and programme a LEGO robot that then must complete game missions.

This year’s theme is SUPERPOWERED, which focuses on how energy is generated, stored, distributed, and consumed. A separate aspect to the robotics competition is an innovation challenge where the team identify a problem in the energy industry and work together to design a solution to solve it. As well as research and coding the challenge also highly values strong teamwork and inclusivity.

The SUPERPOWERED theme is a clear match with the offshore wind industry and so when Celtic Sea Power approached us to help support STEM engagement in renewable technology through the FIRST LEGO league, it felt like the perfect fit for Flotation Energy to sponsor. A further incentive for participating was the suggestion offshore wind developers to sponsor teams from the Southwest and Wales to create ‘friendly’ competition!

Between the regional and national finals, our fab Braunton Academy team undertook further refinement of their robot “Astro Bill”, perfecting the coding needed to complete the missions and the design of their innovation project.

For the innovation project, the team identified  a problem relevant to their local area, land use and biodiversity impacts associated with the area needed for installation of solar panels. Their solution: incorporate solar panels onto offshore wind turbine towers to maximise the use of space and minimise the resource needed to maintain them.

Ahead of the finals I headed into Braunton Academy to offer any help they might need. I was blown away by the amount of work the team have dedicated to the project, both at school, during their lunchtimes and at home. It was so inspiring to see the effort and commitment that the students have given to this challenge, each contributing their own skills and expertise to deliver the absolute best they can.

The team were up against stiff competition from across the country but held their nerve to produce a fantastic effort in the robotics competition and deliver a faultless performance in the presentation of their innovation challenge. You can see footage from the whole day by clicking here.

All of us at Flotation Energy, especially me (!!) are incredibly proud of these young people, their commitment to the project and their enviable teamworking skills. I have no doubt that they will be an asset to any renewable energy employer, and I hope that being involved in this challenge has sparked and interest to get involved in the industry.

Hopefully we will see some of them working to develop the offshore wind farms of the future in a couple of years! CONGRATULATIONS Braunton Academy and let’s start planning for the FRIST LEGO league 2024.

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