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Robotics students are on a roll at Murray Bridge High School
A $20,000 donation from the South Australian and Northern Territory Freemasons will help a local team compete in a national competition.
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An extra subject has been added to the traditional “three Rs” at Murray Bridge High School: now it’s reading, writing, arithmetic and robotics.
Students have been building and programming their own robots for years now, and competing in state and national competitions against teams with budgets in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Thanks to the South Australian and Northern Territory Freemasons, though, the playing field is now a lot closer to level.
They donated $20,000 to the Murray Bridge team last week.
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To say thank you, students put on a demonstration by robots which had been programmed to navigate past obstacles and stack plastic “pixels” on a shelf.
Grand Master David Brooker said it was extremely pleasing, and rewarding, to see some of the practical outcomes of the grant.
Coding and robotics professionals were in short supply across Australia, the Freemasons said in a statement; developing relevant skills in school students would give them an edge in the nation’s technology-focused job market.
Each year, the team has to build robots to perform a different task on only a few weeks’ notice.
Competitions pit two teams against each other in an arena, where each team’s robots try to perform that task as quickly and effectively as possible.
Matches last two and a half minutes.
For the first 30 seconds, the robots must act completely autonomously.
After that, they are allowed to be remote-controlled – usually by a pair of students, one who controls its movement and the other who controls a grappling arm or another mechanism.
Murray Bridge’s Freemasons have supported the robotics team, the Murray Bridge Bunyips, since 2019, when they helped members get to the First Tech Challenge national championships in Sydney.
The Freemasons hoped that their donation would enable not only Murray Bridge High School students, but potentially students from other schools to get involved through workshops or local competitions.
Murray Bridge is due to host a qualifying event for the national competition in a year’s time.
More information: Follow @mbhs_bunyips.robotics18 on Instagram.