Research at the University of Cumbria on the reintroduction of the Eurasian Lynx to the UK has inspired a project by pupils at Keswick School, which then led to a very successful entry in a national competition.
When the school’s LEGO® Innovators Club chose to investigate the topic, because it is currently in the news, they got in touch with Professor Ian Convery and Dr Darrell Smith, conservation experts at the university who are involved in the initiative.
The team from Keswick School has been working on the project as part of their entry for the First® LEGO® League national competition since early October and the members were required to complete a number of tasks, presentations, posters and research activities in order to qualify for the competition, the national finals of which took place at the University of the West of England in Bristol.
The 47 teams competing in the national finals were challenged to build a robot using a LEGO® Mindstorms® kit which they had to program to autonomously complete a series of missions. The project theme was ‘Animal Allies’. This involved researching and proposing solutions concerning the ways in which humans and animals interact, which led to the Keswick team’s decision to choose the Lynx reintroduction.
With support from Professor Convery and Dr Smith, the team was able to deliver an excellent project presentation on the benefits and risks of the proposed lynx reintroduction.
Overall the Keswick team came eighth in the national finals, a very creditable result as they were beaten narrowly in the final knockout round by a much older and more experienced team, who ultimately went on to win the overall competition.
Professor Convery said: “It was a pleasure to work with the children from Keswick School and to have the opportunity to share our research on the Eurasian Lynx with them. It’s inspiring to know that our work in this field has stimulated an interest in exploring the topic for their competition entry.
“Darrell and I really enjoyed our visit to meet the children and we came away very impressed by their knowledge and commitment. It is an immense achievement for them to come eighth in the National LEGO® League finals and the staff and other pupils at Keswick School can be justly proud of what they have achieved.”