Robotics at McLaren

Over the past 3 years robotics teams from McLaren High School have reached 4 national finals and picked up 8 trophies, including winning the prestigious UK-wide ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers’ Robotics Championship in March.  In September we hosted our first Robotics Competition for our associated primary schools, hosted by our UK Championship winning team.


For session 2018-19, our challenge was to build on this outstanding level of success in Robotics.  For the first time, we have 3 separate Robotics teams across 2 competitions.  We are also running a new S1 elective course entitled ‘McLaren School of Robotics’, to which pupils can opt in.  Finally, we are in the process of rolling out a number of Pupil STEM Ambassadors to help support our primary schools with their Robotics programmes.


This year we have a team in the Tomorrow’s Engineers Competition, run by Engineering UK, which will take place early next year.  We also entered two teams into the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) Lego League.  The teams have been sharing the STEM room for the last few months, all working hard to ensure they can meet the levels we now expect of a robotics team from McLaren High.  Team ‘Lemon Meringue π’ is comprised of five S3 pupils: Emma Martin, Eve McCulloch, Finlay Murphy, Robert Rawson and Tommy Scott.  The ‘STEM Troopers’ team comprises four S2 pupils: Cameron Harvey, Bruce McKechnie, Matthew Murray and Andrew Twigg.


The teams attended the Dundee Qualification Heat at the start of December.  The competition was made up of 4 main aspects all based around the theme of the competition – Space Travel: 


  • Both teams had to compete with the table top challenges that they have worked on since September. 
  • They had to discuss their robot design and their programming with a team of engineers.
  • They had to present on their team “Core Values” – how they have improved in their soft skills through the competition including problem solving, communication, resilience and teamwork.
  • They had to deliver a presentation to a team of engineers based on their research into a problem associated with long duration space travel:


*  The STEM Troopers presented on their research into Algae Farming in Space.  They met with Dr Axel Hagermann and Dr Vagelis Spyrakos from Stirling University – experts in the area to support their research.

*  Lemon Meringue π presented on their research into Solving the Problem of Muscle Atrophy in Deep Spaceflight with Dr Naoimi Brooks – an expert to support this research.


Our thanks to all the staff at Stirling University who have supported us with this endeavour.


Both teams performed very well on the day, overcoming a number of challenges.  Unfortunately, the STEM Troopers had to compete without Matthew Murray who was unwell on the day of the competition.  After a short wait, the results were announced:


  • Lemon Meringue π won the Robot Design Aspect – the engineering judges were really impressed with the manner in which they overcame issues with the table challenge on the day.
  • Lemon Meringue π also won the Robot Challenge Aspect – after showing continuous improvement in their performance throughout the day.
  • The STEM Troopers won overall having showed a very high level of performance across all aspects. 


They will travel to Bristol for the UK and Ireland Finals in February.