Aberdeen Science Centre announces winners for RoboThespian competition

Maja Kildedal, head of innovation & improvement for Equinor UK and Ireland, and Bryan Snelling, CEO of Aberdeen Science Centre are pictured at Equinor House in Aberdeen with pupils from the winning schools, Fergus Skolnik (Gilcomstoun School -blue jumper), Rowan Cuthill (Cults Primary – black jumper) and Erin Macleod (Methlick School – blue cardigan)

A GROUP of pupils from Aberdeen City and Shire schools have been selected to programme a life-size robot due to be unveiled at Aberdeen Science Centre when it reopens in summer 2020, following a multi-million-pound redevelopment project.

Children from Cults Primary School, Gilcomstoun School and Methlick School have been chosen to provide customised content for the robot, named RoboThespian, as part of a competition run by Aberdeen Science Centre and sponsored by Equinor.

RoboThespian is a humanoid acting robot designed by Engineered Arts Ltd, which visitors to the science centre can interact with.

The robot can be programmed with 10 minutes of customised content, and school pupils across the North-east were asked for their ideas on what that content should include.

Judges from Aberdeen Science Centre and Equinor chose entries from pupils at Cults Primary School, who suggested content on the advantages of renewable energy; Methlick School, who provided facts about energy and Gilcomstoun School, who recommended content on how to conserve energy.

Each of the ideas will now be developed into a script with pupils having the opportunity to record their own voices to be featured.

The public can also vote for the name of the robot on Aberdeen Science Centre’s social media channels, based on shortlisted suggestions submitted by the school pupils.

Bryan Snelling, chief executive of Aberdeen Science Centre, said: “We’d like to thank all the teachers and pupils who took part in this exciting competition. It has allowed young people across the North-east to get involved in creating an interactive and completely unique attraction for our new centre.

“The winning pupils have not only inspired us with their suggestions, they have demonstrated knowledge in robotics and automation which are skills we expect to be in huge demand in the future as developments in technology continue to advance.”

Equinor’s sponsorship agreement includes supporting the centre’s Code Factory programme, which aims to engage young people in coding and programming and support building these critical skills early.

Arne Gürtner, senior vice president, UK and Ireland Offshore at Equinor, said: “We ask young people to consider the key role energy plays in all our lives and the increasingly important role of digitalisation in our futures. By engaging young people in this conversation, we seek to bring them on the journey as we drive change towards to a more digital and a low carbon future.”

“Today we’ve been showing our competition winners how we’re using new ways of working with technology and innovation to meet energy demands and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time.”

The winning pupils will each have the opportunity to visit RoboThespian at the new centre when it reopens in summer 2020.

Aberdeen Science Centre is currently undergoing a major redevelopment project which will see the creation of a state-of-the-art science centre which reflects the key priorities of the STEM agenda for both industry and education.

The project will revitalise and transform the dated centre as well as expand the exhibition and corporate space.

The transformation will include an extension and creation of a new mezzanine floor – almost doubling the exhibition space – and exposing the roof structure to allow natural light to flood into the building.

The £4.7 million redevelopment is being made possible by support and funding from the Inspiring Science Fund – a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK Research and Innovation, Wellcome, Opportunity North East (ONE) and Aberdeen City Council.

The project has secured a further £1.5million to ensure quality of programmes and delivery to enhance the overall visitor experience at the venue and funding is ongoing for future programme and activities.

For more information, visit https://www.aberdeensciencecentre.org

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