Episode 23: From Sheffield to Shanghai with the UK’s first World Educational Robot Contest finalists

We talk to this talented team of Sheffield children about their incredible journey so far – and they haven’t even left the UK yet!

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This is a very special episode of the Sheffield Digital podcast because I got to sit down and talk to the Sheffield kids (and their parents) who have won a place in the finals of the World Educational Robot Contest, which takes place in Shanghai next month.

The WEP has been a global competition since 2013, and these Sheffield kids are the first to represent the UK in the world finals, and it’s amazing to hear them talk to so passionately about their work and the competition.

Winning their spot at the finals was only the first battle – finding the funding to actually go to the finals has been a mission for the families since they won the UK round at the University of Sheffield in July. Thankfully, enough people and firms have given generously, including Rolls Royce and our regional partners the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), who helped get them over the crowdfunding line last month.

The families are paying for their own flights, however in order to gain access to the competition, the accommodation and hospitality, a second campaign was launched to try to ensure each child had a parent there to support them. We think it’s such a fantastic achievement and so important to support Sheffield’s young tech talent, that Sheffield Digital decided to make the final contribution on behalf of our members, right at the competition entry deadline, to ensure the trip would go ahead.

The WER Contest is a huge event, with China sending 50 kids to every national qualifying event around the world and hundreds of teams at the finals. In some countries preparing for WER is part of the primary school curriculum! We would love to help the Sheffield kids make a good impression, and there are lots of ways the community can get involved to help them, as you’ll hear from the interview.

Perhaps the most important thing, though, is some design and presentation help as they will need to make an entrance, with a banner, and introduce themselves to all the other competitors. If there are any designers who would like to help them, we’d love to hear from you!

If you’d like to offer your services (for free) then please get in touch. You can email info@sheffield.digital and we’ll put you in touch.

The finalists (and their parents)

As you’ll hear on the podcast, the kids and their parents introduce themselves, but here is a full list of this talented team of young tech stars, including their parents.

  • Alexander (Alex) O’Carroll (7) and parents Liz and Nick O’Carroll
  • Allen Yung (7) and mum Wenn Lin
  • Kirin Harrington (11) and mum Kully Gill
  • Jacob Sibanda (12) and dad Lunghani Sibanda
  • Ruby Barrett (12) and dad Paul Barrett
  • Sophia Houton, (7) part of the team but not travelling to Shanghai

Notes and links

Every episode comes with a list of links to all of the various people, companies and topics that we reference. Here is that list for episode 23.

Did I miss something you’re looking for? Just get in touch and let me know.

Join the conversation

We’re really keen to get your feedback on the podcast. You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter or on the channel in the Sheffield Digital Slack community.

Thank you for the music

Thanks again to Alex Mclean – aka Yaxu – for the show’s intro music, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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