Grace Marshall has been attending a workshop on robotics for two hours every Sunday morning since March, working on building and refining her robot and learning coding through the Tasmanian Association for the Gifted.
And it appears her hard work and sacrifices have paid off, with the Year 4 student placing third in the Primary Rescue Challenge of the UTAS RoboCup Junior state finals on July 29.
The challenge involved a changing course whereby the robot needed to navigate a different route over five rounds to ‘rescue’ a person from a toxic spill zone to then qualify for the final with three different challenges.
Grace was tasked with programming her robot to follow a black line of varying curves and intersections.
The robot had to recognise and move around an obstacle on the path, travel up and down ramps, cross a ‘cattle grid’ and identify the ‘person’ in the spill zone and, finally, rescue them.
Through the duration of the competition, Grace had to establish the reason why her robot was not necessarily responding to the course in the way she expected, and reconstruct her robot – or amend her coding – to respond to the challenges.
Overall, the challenge was a great learning experience for Grace.
It enabled her to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, deal with disappointment, and celebrate when the continual tweaking resulted in success. Way to go, Grace!