Opencast has donated a dozen MacBook laptops to help pupils at a Gateshead school design and build new robots – and compete in the world’s largest robotics competition.
Wardley Primary School has a busy and active robotics programme – and pupils there spend their own time perfecting robot designs, regularly contributing to the school’s robotics YouTube channel, at youtube.com/channel/UCCf9MCOD-tTbubaSpPtKSyQ.
Wardley’s robotics team took part in this year’s International World VEX robotics competition – joining over 900 teams from around the world – and the school is looking to go back to Dallas again in 2024.
The school is working with local and regional businesses to help them with deliver its ambitious ongoing STEM learning programme. One company it enlisted to help was CMYK, an IT services provider that manages the school’s printing services.
CMYK regional sales director Craig Pratt also works with Opencast and he approached the company to see if it would be willing to help. Opencast swiftly agreed to donate 12 laptops to help Wardley pupils to learn code for their robots.
Craig said: “We’ve been Opencast’s outbound IT services provider since last October and when we explained what the school was doing, they were only too happy to help. The laptops are perfect for the ongoing needs of the school, but they didn’t have the budget to buy the computers themselves.”
Craig added: “I’m a huge believer in North East enterprise supporting education, especially in the technology sector, as ultimately these young people could be future team members for our firms - and it’s just a great thing to do.”
Other companies responding to the school’s request for help include Nissan Skills School and the Reece Foundation.
David Sarginson, Opencast’s head of software development and a STEM ambassador, said: "Opencast is delighted to make this donation of MacBooks to Wardley Primary School. We hope the computers will help students there to learn and build an interest and use of technology. We're committed to doing what we can to boost STEM learning in schools through schools visits and donations like this.
“We need to invest in the next generation of technologists to meet the ever-changing demands and trials of the future.”
Daniel Burfield, a year 3 teacher at Wardley and Vex robotics enthusiast, said: “Our team, 38154A, really enjoyed meeting Lily Martin and Dave Wright from Opencast, as well as Craig Pratt from CMYK. It was lovely to watch the enthusiastic discussion about the team’s robot and their recent experience at the VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas.
“One of our goals is to make STEM and robotics available for all at Wardley Primary. For us, it is not enough to just have a number of extremely successful robotics teams – we want all the children to enjoy the joy of programming robots.
“The donation of 12 MacBooks from Opencast is amazing and we are incredibly excited about the positive impact it will have. Like the majority of schools, we are not in a position to purchase the cutting-edge hardware needed to develop our provision.”
The school has also launched a GoFundMe page to attract sponsorship from businesses and donations from the public to help ensure the team can compete at next year’s world championships in Dallas.
Photo (above): Pupils from Wardley Primary School with Opencast’s Lily Martin (second left) and Dave Wright (back right), with CMYK’s Craig Pratt (front right).