"They have students queuing up at the door": robotics club sparks STEM success

VEX Robotics

We create tools that educators and mentors will use to shape the learners of today into the problem solving leaders of tomorrow. Our vision is a world where every student has the opportunity to be inspired by the excitement of hands-on STEM learning and knows the feeling of creating something with technology. We want people of all ages and backgrounds to recognise that creative problem solving is fun and see its importance in shaping a better future.

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Andrew Duffey, Head of Design Technology & Engineering and Computing at The Henrietta Barnett School for girls, talks about how VEX Robotics is preparing students for their future careers and the extraordinary demand for students to join the school robotics club.

Andrew has incorporated VEX IQ into the classroom using the free online curriculum, developed to meet national academic standards, to teach Year 8 pupils the key elements of STEM through robotics. He credits the practical and theoretical aspects of VEX as pivotal factors to ensuring students are engaged, as well as thinking creatively and critically throughout lessons.

“Whether it’s building or designing a robot or using the free programming software exploring coding languages where the transition to C++ is seamless, the girls’ knowledge of STEM is increasing every day," said Andrew. "I had a colleague at the school approach me about the benefits it has had on the pupils in his science class. As VEX teaches pupils about gears, linkages and ratios, they’re already familiar with lots of the theories introduced in Physics which their classmates are learning for the first time.”

Andrew’s implementation of VEX goes beyond the classroom. His school's teams engineer robots to take part in VEX competitions, which take place on a regional, national and international scale.

During the most recent VEX UK National Championships, which take place annually at Telford’s International Centre, The Henrietta Barnett School teams in attendance featured prominently during the awards ceremony, where accolades for the teams ranged from the Judges Award, to the Excellence Award, the top overall honour in the VEX competition. Andrew supports VEX events throughout the year and offers his support to local schools beginning their own journey with VEX was unanimously voted ‘Volunteer of the Year’ during the ceremony.

The measure of VEX Robotics’ success at HBS is evidenced by the sheer number of students attending the robotics club lead by Andrew and his colleague Sean Kelly, as well the rising number of students eager to get involved.

“We could easily treble the number of girls attending robotics club. If anything, that’s underestimating how many girls are keen to join, but unfortunately, we just don’t have the space for it. They have students queuing up at the door, sitting on the floor and even watching through the windows in awe of the robots being created by the teams. It’s just so wonderful to see them so excited by robotics!”  

Not only is Andrew helping to capture the interest and imagination of girls through robotics, but he is helping to create an environment with phenomenal potential for moving into STEM careers. Since using VEX Robotics as a teaching tool four years ago, several girls from the school have gone on to study engineering courses that combine elements of robotics at university, including one at Oxford.

Visit the VEX website to learn more.

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