March’s Student Spotlight is on Teigan and Maisie

Teigan Dunleavy and Maisie Sweeney, recently secured an impressive second place in the prestigious STEM Northwest Challenge held at Manchester University.

The STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Maths) Northwest Challenge provided a platform for students to explore STEM topics and develop essential skills like teamwork and problem-solving. The event not only showcased the talent of young minds throughout the North West but also highlighted the importance of STEM education in shaping the future workforce.

We caught up with Teigan and Maisie to gain a deeper dive into their experience.

What motivated you to participate in the competition? 
Mr. Kirk our Science teacher encouraged us to get involved. The prospect of competing among the top schools in the region sounded exciting. 

How did you feel when you found out you secured second place? 
"We were just so happy," Teigan exclaimed. Maisie added, "We were awarded our certificate by the Head of Computer Science of Manchester University, who shook our hand and congratulated us." 

Can you tell us more about the challenge itself? 
The challenge was to programme a robot to work out its way around a maze. It was really challenging, and as the maze went on there were harder obstacles we had to figure out. 
We had to include colour and sound sensors, as well as get around the physical obstacles of the maze. 
We kept having to test and retest and working out why something failed to enable us to figure out how to fix it. 
Once we got it right our robot had to race against the other team's robots – we came second – but we were commended for how well we worked together as a team. 
The whole experience was great, but challenging from the start – it made it even more exciting when we overcame each challenge and obstacle, it was like lots of mini wins! 

How did it feel representing Merseyside at such a prestigious event? 
"We didn’t realize the scale of the event at the time," Maisie admitted.  
It was only when seeing the certificate stating 'North West' really hit home the scale of the achievement” 

Mr. Edwards, who chaperoned the trip, had this to say: 
”Maisie and Teigan represented all of Merseyside with impressive skills and impeccable manners. They worked collectively as a team, and with their knowledge of computer science and the rapid advancements of AI, we know that the future is in safe hands with such clever young minds. Both of them were a credit, not only to themselves but also their parents and the school.”

What did you learn from this experience that you didn't know before? 
We both had fairly limited experience programming robots going into this competition – well nothing even close to this extent – so we both learnt so much taking part. You learn so much from failing and thinking through the problem. It was such a fantastic opportunity! 

What advice would you give to other students interested in participating in STEM competitions? 
"Don't hesitate to sign up," they urged. "You learn so much as you go, you meet new people, and it boosts your confidence."

If you're interested in taking part in the next NW STEM challenge then please speak to Mr Kirk in the Science department during STEM club held every Wednesday lunch time. 

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