Hatfield school children programme their own robots at University of Hertfordshire workshops

29 June 2022

Robotics experts from the University of Hertfordshire held a series of interactive sessions at Hatfield Community Free School last week, inspiring the next generation to get into robotics.

Over 240 school children aged seven to 11 got hands-on experience programming robots, learning how they are built and what they can be used for, and exploring computer-aided design.

Students were also introduced to social robot Pepper from the University’s Robot House and Kaspar, a robot developed by the University’s Adaptive Systems Research Group (ASRG) as a social and educational companion for children with autism.

The event, which was held as part of the UK Festival of Robotics (18 – 24 June), was led by the ASRG and part funded by the Holmes Hines Memorial Fund (HHMF). Funding from the HHMF means Hatfield Community Free School can keep 20 of their own small robots, allowing the children to further develop their robotics skills beyond the festival.

Speaking about the event, Martha Surry, a Class Teacher at Hatfield Community Free School, said: “The children took part in some fantastic workshops and had lots of fun exploring robotics. They were amazed by how realistic the robots Pepper and Kaspar were. One child told me that they had learnt about different jobs that use technology and would love to work with technology once they leave education.”

Dr Luke Wood, a Senior Lecturer from the University’s Adaptive Systems Research Group, added: “The University of Hertfordshire is one of the largest engineering schools in the UK, with strong expertise in robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous systems. This technology has already been adopted widely by sectors across the globe, including here in the UK.

“Programmes like this are a fantastic way to encourage younger generations to take up robotics and give them foundational skills they can use to drive future innovation.”

Robotics experts from the University also took part in several other events in the UK Festival of Robotics. Dr Patrick Holthaus, a Senior Research Fellow managing the University's Robot House, was a guest on a live edition of podcast Robot Talk.

Staff from Robot House also took part in Robot Lab Live, the UK Festival of Robotics’ flagship event, where thousands of online participants were able to interact with robots at Robot House.

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