Meet the team set to battle their own robot wars battleown robot wars


WALL-E, C-3PO and the Terminator will have to be on their mettle - there's a new robot coming to town, and this one is special.

After all, its creators are four north London schoolgirls who designed and built their award-winning machine in breaks between lessons.

Henrietta Barnett pupils Jessica Ebner-Statt, Jodi Coffman, Rishi Shah and Elli Gaver, all 14, have spent the past year making a plastic robot that can be both driver-controlled and autonomous.

Last week their hard work paid off, when they scooped four awards in excellence, design, driving skills and teamwork at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham - a national event celebrating science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people.

Now, the new national champions are making the final tweaks to their design before they travel to Kentucky in the United States in April, and compete in the international VEX robotics competition.

This will see them pit their design against more than 1,000 other teams from around the world in a knockout tournament, with each team's robot tasked with picking up as many balls as it can and shooting them into a basket over a fence.

"We have gone through about eight different robot designs since we started making it in June," Jodi, whose family belong to New North London Synagogue, explained. "Eventually, we came up with this one, which took about five weeks to build. We worked every morning, lunch, break-time and after school as well."

She added: "I love building and designing. Most people don't know what robotics is, but when they see our robot driving around they are so amazed that we built it."

The four pupils designed, built, programme and operate their creation, logging their research and processes along the way. According to Jodi, they want to prove that their girls team can give the boys a run for their money.

"In the competition, it is mostly boys. Engineering is so male-dominated, but it shouldn't matter if you're a girl or boy," she said. "I think girls get put off, but it is important to get them studying STEM subjects too."

Jessica, whose family also belong to New North London, agreed.

"I would love as many girls as possible to get into STEM subjects," she said. "I don't understand why it should be thought of as masculine, because it really is not."

The budding inventor was also runner-up in the Talent2030 national engineering competition for girls, where she designed a tyre that creates electrical energy from friction between the tyre and the road

"I love programming and hope to go into science or technology after school, or maybe work with designs by becoming a patent lawyer," she said.

The team are now looking for sponsorship to fund their trip to Kentucky where Jessica said she and her fellow roboteers were hopeful of making it into the top 100 in the tournament.

"We've got a plan and we know what to do to score the points," she added.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive