McLaren High Pupils Take Third Place in International Robotics Competition

A team of aspiring young engineers from McLaren High School have taken third place at an international robotics competition in Brazil.

McLaren High School STEM Troopers on stage after being awarded third place at the Lego League International Open
McLaren High School STEM Troopers on stage after being awarded third place at the Lego League International Open

The school’s STEM Troopers team earned the opportunity to represent Scotland on the world stage after being crowned champions of Scotland’s first Lego League this summer. The technology challenge, aimed at 9-16 year olds, gives teams the task of building a robot to take on a number of objectives and create an innovative solution to a real life problem.

Solutions for modern problems

Following their success, the team will be showcasing their talents in an exhibition at October’s Stirling Science Festival at the Thistles Centre where they’ll demonstrate how applied robotic solutions can solve modern problems.

This year’s national competition, entitled Cargo Connect, challenged teams to design a solution to more efficiently transport cargo around the world. The team of S6 pupils; Cameron Harvey, Matthew Murray and Andrew Twigg, designed a solution of transporting parcels between destinations using existing journeys. This would enable a customer to use an app, such as Uber, to pick up and deliver packages on routes that are already being travelled by a courier, lowering delivery costs and reducing emissions.

The team, along with their coaches, Martin Macmillan and James Power, made the trip to the international final held in Rio de Janeiro where the team’s design came in third place.

'Absolutely ecstatic'

Matthew Murray said: “As a team, we are all absolutely ecstatic about getting third in the world in robot design - we can still barely believe it! We have learned so much in the past five years we have been doing robotics but we know there is so much more to discover.

“We are going to continue promoting robotics at McLaren in the coming years by coaching the younger teams and running primary school robotics competitions to help more young people gain experiences like this.  Finally, I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone that helped to make this happen; especially our mentors Mr Macmillan and Mr Power.  Not only for giving up their summer holidays to be with us, but for the weeks of work they spent planning every detail - they have been truly amazing.”

McLaren High School has had a consistent presence within UK robotics over the last eight years. In this period, 15 teams have entered and reached national finals, scooping up numerous trophies along the way.

Eight Years of Success

Following the team’s 2019 success at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham, they qualified for the 2020 International Fair in Greece, which was cancelled due to the pandemic. They then qualified for last year’s final in Sydney, winning the “Breakthrough Award” signifying the team’s potential to make big achievements in the future.

Team coach Martin Macmillan said: “I am so proud of our STEM Troopers team, they performed so well in the final and to come home with a trophy from an International Final is unbelievable.  The competition was fantastic, the South American teams showed such energy and enthusiasm throughout and the amount of noise, colour, singing and chanting was on another level to anything I’ve seen before.

“We had an amazing time in Rio and I can’t speak highly enough of the Brazilian people - they were welcoming and friendly across our entire stay.”

Representing Scotland on the world stage

Head Teacher at McLaren High, Marc Fleming said: “As a school community we have seen a truly breath taking journey over the past few years in promoting excellence in Robotics. I am extremely proud with what Andrew, Cameron & Matthew have achieved in Rio Di Janeiro competing against teams from around the world.  These boys will leave McLaren next year with such an outstanding legacy in the name of Robotics and I am extremely proud of what they have achieved.”

Children and Young People Convener, Cllr Danny Gibson said: “I’m immensely proud of the STEM Troopers for being crowned as the third best in the world. The pupils have been a credit to their teachers, their school and their community to represent Scotland on the world stage.

“McLaren High has fostered some of the brightest young minds in STEM through the encouragement of their teachers and I truly believe that these young people will go on to achieve great things with the potential they have shown.”

STEM Troopers group selfie
The STEM Troopers take a selfie with their 3rd place trophy (L-R: Cameron Harvey; Andrew Twigg; Matthew Murray; James Power; Martin McMillan)

STEM Troopers at the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio
The STEM Troopers enjoyed their time in Rio, stopping to get a picture at the Christ the Redeemer statue.

McLaren High Pupils at Thistles Centre
Cameron Harvey and Andrew Twigg promoting the Stirling Science Festival at the Thistles Centre where they will provide an exhibition