A few weeks ago, I was part of a double act running the robotics activity at the Technology in Action Residential School in Bath.
The activity is based on a "robot rescue" mission, with several small student teams learning how to program and control a small Lego robot as it explores a tunnel network in search of a lost teddy with an emergency light beacon!
The activity was originally inspired by the RoboCup Robot Rescue Challenge, an annual, international event that sets teams of robot researchers the challenge of building a robot to explore a simulated disaster area.
This year, the competition was held in Atlanta, and whilst we didn't enter a robot into the Senior League, some colleagues of mine from the OU Robotics Outreach Group were there as officials at RoboCupJunior.
RoboCupJunior is a schools competition run in the Spring Term of each year that sees school teams competing in one of three areas - robot football, robot rescue and robot dance.
Robot football and robot reescue are both derived from the senior challenges, but robot dance is a far more creative affair. The statement of the challenge is simple: "design, build and program a robot to entertain the judges by dancing to a song of your choice two minutes".
Although the competition is won or lost by the performance of the robots, many teams choose to dance along with their robot and to great effect. This year's international champions - for the second year in a row - was a team of eight twelve to fifteen year olds from Amberfield School in Essex. This year's entry - Swan Song - developed a visual theme that brought the first prize home with them last year as Flight of the Phantom Phoenixes.
I'm not sure if we'd get away with Robot Dance in Technology in Action, although several of our groups this year did attempt a synchronised robot ballet!
PS Quentin Cooper from the Material World joined my colleague Jon Rosewell at the Technology in Action Robotics Summer School this year. You can find out whether Ted was successfully rescued by tuning in to The Material World, BBC Radio 4 between 16.30 and 17.00 on Thursday August 9th 2007. Or listen again after the initial broadcast from The Material World website.