Hundreds of Cornish children battle it out to build the best Lego robot

  • ITV News' Charlotte Gay joined the robot fun

Nearly 600 children from across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are battling it out to find out which school is the best at coding Lego robots.

It's the first round of the international Lego challenge, where schools test their teamwork to see where a career in science of engineering could take them.

This round was held inside a hanger at RNAS Culdrose on Wednesday 13 March - school teams had to build their robot, design it and then learn how to code it.

The event takes place over two days, with 60 schools taking part and engineers then judging who's going on to the next round.

Despite the children competing to build the best robot, the camaraderie and hard work of the children is clear.One of the children said: "First it was nerve-wracking because we didn't know what to expect and how to actually do it. But once you've done your practice runs you understand it more."

Another added: "It's quite hard. It's just trying to get it [the robot] to go to the right place and do the right thing."

"They have to build the robot, design the robot, then learn how to code it," said Melanie Wells, the assistant head at Trevithick Learning Academy.

"Then they have to solve their strategy for the games and think about project and presentation. So it's all a big thing."

Acknowledging that her own coding abilities are "awful", Melanie added: "Everyone can learn something. So as long as you go with gusto you can't go wrong."

Judging the competition, Cmdr Andy Betts, head engineer of RNAS Culdrose, said: "The kids have been fantastic. I did some judging earlier and the way they've taught through you, how they research their own problems, how they're diving into YouTube videos and finding ways to code their robots. Fantastic."

He added: "It just shows that, you know, you don't need to go through courses and degrees to be able to just have a go at this stuff - it's really good."

On top of the competition, there were plenty of science experiments and gadgets to show the children. Organisers hoped to get boys and especially girls to see what parts of science and engineering they enjoy.Caitlyn Gould, founder of Tec Girls at the event, said: "Our research has shown that across Cornwall, only 3% of girls are choosing a computing science GCSE and we know that there's big problems with take up with girls""So what we want to try to do is create a lot of positivity and excitement around it without excluding anybody else that might want to take part in."