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Year 8 QUT STEM Workshop: Cars of the Future

Year 8 QUT STEM Workshop: Cars of the Future

Author: Gay Ellyett
Author Role: Coordinator: Exceptional Scientists' Program

The QUT Cars of the Future Workshop was an amazing day where we learned many new skills in robotics and programming. We began by learning the basic syntax of the Arduino language. I didn’t know if I would be able to be a great help to the team as I had never done any coding or robotics before, but with the help and guidance from the QUT ambassadors, I was able to contribute and have a lot of fun while doing it. We were left to problem-solve but if we needed help the instructors would give us tips on how to solve any problems we had in our code. This excursion gave me a chance to experience activities that would not usually be offered at CHAC and extend my knowledge further. The program was mainly focused on coding and robotics, and how self-driving cars will impact the future. This was an exciting experience that exposed us to science and engineering in the real world.

Danielle Weizman, Year 8

I really enjoyed the QUT STEM day. My favourite activity was coding the Arduino robot to follow the line on the floor. It was so exciting to watch what we had typed on our computer come to life! My team lost the only game we played, as we did a round robin competition, but we were still proud of our Arduino robots and what we did as a group. I think that we could have improved our robot by changing the kp and kd to be closer. The kp and kd were two numbers that changed how shaky our robot was when it moved. For example, if the kp was higher than the kd the robot was shaky when it followed the line. Our group changed our values right at the end of the testing period, and I think that is what made our robot lose against the other team when we raced them. But it was still fun to code and design our robots and I really enjoyed that activity.

Audrey Davidson, Year 8

When the QUT students were explaining the pros and cons of self-driving cars I began looking at them through a different perspective. When it was our chance to program our car, we had to make it follow a white line around a circuit. My Group won, and I think that this was mainly because we were pushing the boundaries by placing all motors to their max, even around the corners. It was a great day that I am glad I participated in. The students teaching us were very interesting to listen to throughout the day.

Charlotte McNally, Year 8

On Friday 3 May, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a robotics excursion at QUT. This involved coding. We found out about the different languages of code and the basics of coding. The activities we participated in encompassed a lot of teamwork. The first thing we did was the Blink Challenge. This involves programming four LEDs to flash in a pattern, then repeat this pattern five times. We also got a chance to use ‘The Cube’ which is an electronic interactive screen. On this, we programmed a ‘bot’ to follow instructions and recycle different kinds of waste. This taught us the basic steps for coding. Another activity we participated in was coding a miniature, self-driving car. Later we raced these and my group won! I enjoyed this part most of all. This experience taught us about the positives and negatives of autonomous cars and how you are putting your life in the decisions of a designer. We also learnt about university paths in STEM. Overall, this excursion was very enjoyable and educational. I hope to visit QUT on another excursion soon.

Emma Topp, Year 8


After the entire fun-filled day of learning about software, our group got to test the car hoping for a win. Unfortunately, something malfunctioned when the Arduino car was syncing to the computer and eight of the ten nail-biting minutes allowed to test the car, were consumed by figuring out what was wrong. Finally, on our first trial, it looked more like a rocking horse than a race car. We agreed, inspired by Marvels Ironman, “If we don’t do this, it will be done to us”. Some further program tweaks and we were ready to race. It worked, we raced, we lost.

Kaya Lurie, Year 8

We started the day with some simple coding. Having never tried this before, I was excited about this new experience. With the help of three very intelligent student ambassadors, we completed many challenges over the course of the day, including the Blink Challenge and an engaging activity in The Cube. However, my favourite part was undoubtedly making our own microcontroller car follow a white line around a track. This task was enjoyably challenging as it put our new knowledge of Arduino coding to the test. After a few wrong tries and the constant rewriting of our code to try and work out why our car was infinitely going around in circles, we were successful. Although our team did not win this race, we certainly felt proud of what we had achieved.

Lucy Elmes, Year 8

The QUT STEM workshop was excellent! One thing that I really enjoyed was the Cars of the Future section. In this session, we used a program called Arduino to make small robots to drive in a circuit by following a line. This was very hands-on as we had to code the robot then test it on the track. If it was too slow or too fast, we had to plug it back into the computer and then test it again on the track. We had to find the correct speed for our robot to go rather than just following code that we were given. Playing on the QUT CUBE was also a lot of fun. 20 minutes felt like 1 hour as we got so much coding knowledge in a short time. Trying to code the bots on the CUBE was very challenging at first but we quickly got some sort of idea what was going on. Overall, the workshop was phenomenal, and I would like to thank Mrs Ellyett, Mrs Smith and the QUT school ambassadors for their help making our experience engaging and beneficial.

Joel Tynan, Year 8