Livingston Village Primary School is abuzz with excitement after their Primary 7 pupils emerged victorious in the annual Watt Box Project.
Hosted by Heriot-Watt University, the year-long contest aims to foster an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects among young boys and girls, and help them transition smoothly into secondary school.
A total of 10 primary school across West Lothian and Forth Valley took part in this year’s challenge with the aim of using robots to cater to the needs of the elderly. To aid them in their endeavours, small robot balls, known as Spheros, were loaned by the University to all competing schools, which were carefully coded by the pupils to carry out a range of specialist tasks.
The competition has not only helped instil confidence in the Primary 7 pupils but has also opened their eyes to the exciting possibilities of STEM education.
As part of their remarkable winning entry, the young students from Livingston surpassed all expectations set by the competition organisers. They went the extra mile by actively engaging with elderly individuals in their local community, demonstrating their genuine commitment to understanding and addressing the challenges faced by this demographic.
With meticulous research, brainstorming sessions, and hard work, the pupils crafted innovative robots to revolutionise elderly care. Their designs focussed on providing, among others, companionship assistance, as well as monitoring the health and safety of the elderly population.
The panel of judges decided to crown the Livingston school victors after being impressed with the level of ingenuity and skill displayed by the pupils.
The winning class was recently welcomed at Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh campus where pupils were presented with a certificate for their efforts by Alistair McConnell, Assistant Professor in Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University.
Afterwards, Samantha Clark, Academic Liaison and Outreach Team Manager at Heriot-Watt University, said: “The competition has not only helped instil confidence in the Primary 7 pupils but has also opened their eyes to the exciting possibilities of STEM education.
"By engaging in hands-on activities and working on real-world challenges, the students have gained skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork. These skills will undoubtedly serve them well as they progress to secondary school and beyond.”
All competing schools received regular support from student outreach ambassadors and academics at Heriot-Watt University as well as from senior students from Inveralmond Community High School in Livingston and from Braes High School in Falkirk. Already well-versed in STEM subjects, these students acted as mentors and guides, offering support and expertise to the young innovators.
Mrs Fraser, Principal Teacher (Acting), Livingstone Village Primary School, said: “Our P7’s had a fantastic inspirational experience at Heriot-Watt University.
“They saw the latest robots in action and were encouraged to be curious and ask questions and have expanded their knowledge and understanding across STEM subjects as a result. The enthusiasm of all the staff and students we encountered was infectious and out learners are all motivated to continue their journey in STEM.”
The Watt Box Project has been running since 2020 and there are plans to expand its reach across 50 schools next year, covering Edinburgh, East and West Lothian, Dunfermline, and Falkirk.