Forgive my proud dad head for a moment – but for a respected university to publicly say that the efforts of your 14 year old son is “highly commendable” is kind of a big deal. Felix’s team earned this praise by coming second in a national competition called the University of Leeds STEM challenge 2013 this week. (S.T.E.M. stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, in case you’re wondering).
The brief was to design and build a Mars rover, as well as select the landing site and create a presentation of the work. Felix and his team mates (team Infinity – cool name) were up against a lot of teams who’s participants were much older – and both first and second places were won by teams from Felix’s school. The judges – Professior Liane Benning and Ben Wilcock wrote a letter to Felix to say that they were particularly impressed by his teams analysis of the difficulties of communicating with rovers and with the inclusion of the the drilling device – an innovation unique to the team. Largely built out of Technics Lego, the finished prototype was fully functional. The STEM website says a video should be uploaded shortly – stay tuned!
For their efforts, Felix and each of his 3 colleagues were awarded a special travel mug and £20 amazon vouchers (pictured above). Well done Felix!
The winning rover was pretty special (it’d have to be, to beat my lads, etc…). It’s bristling with technology and innovation, including an on-board laser to simulate vaporizing rock samples for Infrared Laser Spectroscopy. Check out the YouTube video. Impressive stuff.