Robotics at QE went international as never before this summer, with no fewer than nine teams heading to the VEX World Championships in Texas and then, in the last week of term, a visit from the reigning senior Australian champions.
The six IQ (Year 8 and 9) and three VRC (Year 10) teams picked up a string of trophies in Dallas, while also taking time to sample the sights of the city.
Back in Barnet, the Australians’ visit was a meeting of champions, since the Australian VRC winners among the party from Barker College, Sydney, had the chance to rub shoulders with QE’s Team Nova, crowned at this year’s UK’s VRC national finals in Telford.
Head of Digital Teaching & Learning Michael Noonan said: “A last-minute opportunity arose to host the Australians, which gave talented robotics students from different sides of the world an opportunity to share ideas and best practice, and to plan for the season ahead in a symposium-style event.
“It was a great way to end a year which has seen large numbers of our boys take part in regional, national and international events, enjoying great experiences and achieving some notable triumphs, including Team Nova winning the UK tournament championship.
“2022–2023 was also a year of firsts: it included a visit in the spring to the inaugural VEX Robotics Signature Event in Las Vegas (attended by our Year 12 squads unable to attend the World Championships because of their Summer Term public examinations), and our teams being named winners or runners-up in nine separate VEX Robotics Online Challenges – which made QE the most successful organisation in the world in this format.”
The 60-strong group of 15–17 year-old Australians called in during their trip to London and Paris. Their school, Barker College, is a large, high-achieving independent school on the North Shore of Sydney.
In a message to the School before the visit, Barker College Design & Technology teacher Kevin Jones wrote: “Our teachers and students can’t get their heads around the fact you were founded in 1573!” This, he pointed out, was fully 200 years before Captain James Cook became the first European to sail along the Eastern coast of Australia.
At the World Championships in Dallas, the younger QE boys’ trophy haul included a trio of awards for Team Gearsquad and a Create Award for Year 8’s TechnoGear.
At the senior level, the 19 VRC competitors collectively came away with six awards, including an Inspire Award and the Promote Video Online Challenge Award. Two of the three teams – Nova and Shattersquad – battled through tough early competition and successfully made it through to their divisional knockout stages.
During their time in Dallas, QE pupils: visited attractions including the Illusion Museum and Dallas Aquarium; paid their respects at the John F Kennedy memorial site (the US President was assassinated in Dallas in 1963), and enjoyed the spectacular views from the top of the iconic Reunion Tower.