First Tech Challenge Update

In March 2023, St Margaret Ward’s brand new ‘First Tech Challenge’ team attended RAF Cosford for the West Midlands Regional Tournament. Together they built a robot, but more importantly they built a diverse community of friends across years 7 to 11. At the event they made the semi-finals and were runners up for the Motivate Award. Half of the awards at the event were enthusiastically presented by volunteers from St Margaret Ward, and the group were publicly commended from the very start of the event for their enthusiasm and engagement.

Since then, the group found out that they have made it to the First Tech Challenge National Championship at the University of Cambridge and the school has applied for and been given the award of joint ‘FIRST Champion Organisation’ for the West Midlands. Together, the school and the team will be promoting a love of STEM across not just the school but also our feeder schools and the wider community within Stoke-on-Trent. We expect to host First Tech Challenge competitions at the school in the new school year and are excited to support new teams in beginning their journey into the competition.

The team, rebranded as ‘VNATION’, have been hard at work every day preparing for the national competition on 23rd June. The mottos of the competition are ‘More than Robots’ and ‘Gracious Professionalism’, which the group have truly embraced. They have communicated with teams across the country to share advice with them, have held Teams meetings with technology companies to practice their interview, wrote letters to companies within Stoke-on-Trent and have attended enrichment sessions to support teachers and younger students. They have also begun to run their very own STEM sessions for the primary feeder schools, beginning with St Wilfrid’s on 14th June. Together the group planned and created resources for two robotics sessions and delivered these to Year 5 without any adult input. They have also written to FIRST to volunteer to be student ambassadors to VIP guests at the event in Cambridge.

The St Margaret Ward Way aims to inspire students to become good people at their core, and it is a delight to see these students fully embrace this philosophy. In the First Tech Challenge, VNATION have shown that they are not just excellent students, but exceptional members of their community overall.

Congratulations and thank you to:

Y11 – Misbah, Momina, Amina, Khadija, Zumar

Y10 – Angela, Oscar, Michael

Y9 – Talya

Y7 – Farhan, Sumaiyah, Isabelle, Acacia, Grace, Sophie

Now onto the awards ceremony!

The team won the runners up award for the Motivate Award, which celebrates students who support each other, work well as a team, and promote STEM to their local communities and those around them!

And then they won the Design Award MAIN PRIZE! They were commended for having a huge age range but still managing to utilise everyone’s skills in the best possible way, for considering effective branding and design for their team, for producing an excellent engineering portfolio to explain this rationale, creating a themed 3D printed beacon, continuing their theme through the pit and for coming up with an unusual design idea for the aesthetic of the robot, with a circuit pattern.

Their season finishes here, and they are now planning how they’re going to win the biggest award (the Inspire Award) next year! We couldn’t be more proud of them.