Gauteng learners get top spot at an international competition for Covid K9 robot

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Sep 16, 2021

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The future of technology is in the challenges that we face presently, and that’s exactly what a group of grade 7 Reddford House learners did when they created the Covid K9 robot at an international robotics competition.

The Inter-Reddford team, as they would like to be known, made it to the top five spots at the competition hosted by Fulham House School in London. The objective for the competition was that each produced a robot that complied with the competition’s focus, which this year was on ‘enabling movement’.

The competition saw 70 groups from 15 countries across the globe. They were judged according to criteria which included intelligent design, general appeal, innovation, and quality of programming.

Competition organiser and Director of Digital Learning at Fulham School, Brendan O’Keeffe, said the competition produced a rich range of projects.

“To have over a thousand participants from four continents was a brilliant opportunity for students to find a fresh sense of motivation for their STEM learning. This has been a real spark of joy and creativity in academic years that have tested the resilience of both staff and students,” he said.

The global competition is in line with Inspired’s educational approach that’s based on lateral thinking, comprehension, and the innovative application of skills and concepts, all of which encompass empowering students to build successful careers in the fast-growing and crucially important STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) sectors, and thrive in a fast-changing information-driven and digital world.

The Inter-Reddford team’s Covid K9 robot is designed to test people’s temperatures and respond with an appealing canine bark of approval if temperatures are normal and with a growl if too high. K9 also features sanitiser for use before testing, a sensor to begin the movement, and another to measure temperatures, and it also moves, sits, and wags its tail.

The Grade 7 students in the Inter-Reddford team were Ewan Curry (Reddford House Northcliff, Johannesburg), Bonolo Thaneng (Reddford House Blue Hills, Midrand) and Masotsha Mathivha (Reddford House The Hills, Pretoria East); and in the Reddford House Grade 7 Blue Hills team were Makaziwe Ntsele, Philile Mkhatshwa, and Kgatlhiso Moreosele.

The students were thrilled to be among the top 5 winning teams.

Masotsha from Reddford House, The Hills said: “It’s an amazing feat because I got to rank myself not only locally, but on a global stage, and see what I could do to eventually become the best.”

Ewan from Reddford House Northcliff added: “Even though there is a pandemic, this competition allowed us to compete and succeed and to express ourselves. Not being able to see the other competitors’ robots made us work even harder. The hard work paid off.”

Meanwhile, a robotics teacher at ReddFord House The Hills, Ryan Zulch, said he loved watching the students get together and brainstorm ideas.

“It was even better to see them celebrate when their ideas came to life. That’s the beauty of robotics – actually watching your theoretical ideas come to life and bringing joy to children while they learn.”

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