Hampshire children set to battle schools across the nation in robot-building First Lego League England and Ireland final

THEY were complete strangers just five months ago.

Sunday, 10th February 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Monday, 11th February 2019, 10:17 am
The Agile Supernova team after completing the Fareham Parkrun on Saturday. Picture: Liz Stoneham

Now Liz Stoneham’s bright squad of robot builders are gearing up to take on the country.

The 10-strong team of 11 to 13-year-olds have been working together since September to train for the First Lego League – a national tournament geared at promoting science, technology, English and maths. 

After winning the contest’s regional heat at the University of Portsmouth, they next compete in the UK and Ireland final on Saturday at 9am – at the University of West England, Bristol.

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EV3, a robot built by Agile Supernova to complete a range of physical tasks, at the First lego League regional heats at the University of Portsmouth. Picture: Liz Stoneham

An IT professional from Fareham, Liz is their coach and has been helping them hone their skills under their team name Agile Supernova. 

‘Most teams are made up of children from just one school, but mine come from four schools and that has been quite hard for them,’ the 62-year-old said. 

‘It has been a very worthwhile challenge so far and they have all learned so much about themselves and what it means to work as part of a team.’ 

Agile Supernova was assembled after Liz issued a rallying call to almost a dozen schools in the area, offering pupils the unique chance to take part in the competition. 

Liz Stoneham's Agile Supernova team with their trophies after winning the First Lego League regional heat at the University of Portsmouth in December. Picture: Liz Stoneham

The 10 who responded now make up her impressive team – hailing from Swanmore College, Cams Hill School and Portchester Community and Crofton Secondary Schools. 

They will go head-to-head with youngsters aged 11 to 16 from institutions across the country on Saturday as they vie for a spot in further tournaments across the globe. 

‘There are three parts to the First Lego League competitions,’ Liz said. 

‘The first is about working together to build a robot out of Lego to complete a number of set missions, such as picking things up and pushing switches. 

From left, Agile Supernova team members Joshua Stanning and Ian Colwell battle against the clock at the First Lego League regional heat at the University of Portsmouth. Picture: Liz Stoneham

‘Another is a research project that has nothing to do with robots, but it’s about how you would address a scientific issue. Ours is feeding astronauts in space. 

‘Finally the third aspect is about proving you get on as a team and conduct yourself well.’ 

She added: ‘The children are all so excited for the final and I know they are going to put on a good show.’ 

To promote Agile Supernova’s teamwork in the run-up to Saturday's showdown, Liz watched on as her team took on the 5km Fareham Parkrun on Saturday. 

They then got the chance to meet other runners – who are scientists and engineers professionally – about how they once approached First Lego League as contestants. 

Liz said: ‘Because we’re going next Saturday, I didn't want to hold a formal meeting – I wanted the children to get the chance to do something fun. 

‘They all had a great time.' 

The Agile Supernova team roster is as follows: Charlie Trafford, Haiden White, Joshua Stanning, Ian Colwell, Ella Todd, Oscar Jones, Lucas Elder, Edward Leeson, George Wallis and Poppy Flanigan.