k*bots in the UK
K*bots UK National Championship 2013
Twenty teams of young engineers from ten different primary schools and educational
groups converged at The Coombes CE school, Wokingham, in the last week of June for
a very special competition.
One of The Coombes entries (left) came up against a tough opponent from Hatch Ride
In the group stage. unfortunately, both machines were eliminated.
K*bots UK has been very successful over the last year, extending its reach into new schools
as well as welcoming back repeat entries from the last UK championship, held in 2011. The
selection process was incredibly tough and the level of competition significantly higher than
in previous years. During the morning session, all teams were able to make tweaks and
improvements to their K*bots in preparation for the afternoon’s matches.
Everything kicked off after lunch, with the K*bots entering a group stage "round robin" in
which they scored points for winning or drawing their matches. The eight highest scorers
were then drawn into a knockout round all the way through to the Final. As expected, there
was plenty of home support for The Coombes and they saw a couple of machines qualify
from the groups, but the biggest surprise was newcomers Grazeley, in their first year of
K*bot competition, who saw both of their representative teams get through.
However, there were two teams that were really making waves, and not just because they
had won all of their group stage matches. Becky and Lauren with "Monster Crusher", from
The Coombes, became the first all-girl team to win a regional event back in February. They
now had competition from another all-girl team from Hatch Ride, who had come from left
field with a K*bot that had gotten better and better throughout the day as the team worked
constantly to find ways to improve.
Another youngster grabbing the headlines was Edward Wang from Grazeley, whose innovative
K*bot "Pincerbot" had been designed with two scorpion claws that would slam shut whenever
an opponent got too close. It was a great novelty K*bot, but it was surprising everyone by
being a great pushing machine as well.
Two powerful four-wheel-drive K*bots contested this quarter-final match, eventually won
by the girls from Hatch Ride (left), with “Crusher Upper”.
Edward’s fantastic creation “Pincerbot” was the crowd’s favourite, but surprised everyone
with its strong progress through the competition.
The team from Finchampstead Primary School, with "Shredder", caused an upset in the
quarter-finals by knocking out the competition favourite "Vandersmasher". They then went
on to underline their credentials by beating "Pincerbot" in the semi-finals. That left just one
place in the Final to play for, and in the day’s biggest story, it came down to the two teams
of girls. All day long, "Crusher Upper" from Hatch Ride had been scooping underneath the
front end of their opponents and negating their four-wheel-drive. "Monster Crusher" from
The Coombes had hitherto been able to keep all four wheels on the floor, but they too
succumbed to the girls’ excellent front end design.
This set up a Grand Final between Finchampstead and the unstoppable girls from Hatch
Ride, and despite a nerve-jangling final which went all the way to the time limit, the girls
from Hatch Ride triumphed to become the 2013 K*bots UK champions!
Morgan, Anaya and Hannah from Hatch Ride (left) can’t believe it, as their K*bot scoops
under another opponent and pushes them back to win the Final! Girl power stole the show
This year’s top engineered K*bots. From left to right: “King Of K*bots” (The Coombes),
“Shredder” (Finchampstead) – runner-up, “Crusher Upper” (Hatch Ride) – winner, and
K*bots UK Young Builders Challenge gets underway in England
The all-girl teams dominated the group stages, and even shared some close matches between them.
In the semi-finals, four-wheel-drive triumphed over two-wheel-drive as the team from Hatch Ride
(on the right) booked their place in the Final.
The first round of the inaugural K*bots UK Young Builders Challenge lifted off
in spectacular style in Crowthorne, near Wokingham, last weekend. There were
representatives from four local schools; Gorse Ride, Hatch Ride, Finchampstead
and Oaklands. The format of the Challenge is simple. Students must work in pairs (or
teams of three under certain circumstances) to build a motorised pushing machine capable
of outmuscling an opponent in a test of head-to-head pushing power. Every team is given
an identical standard gearbox unit to start with – although teams are, of course, allowed
to build their own gearbox if they wish. As the teams got to work, we saw a mixture of
designs emerge as teams came up with different solutions to the challenge. We saw a
healthy mix of two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive entries – including one ambitious
machine with three stages of gearing, designed for optimum pushing power.
The proof of the pudding would be in the competition at the end of the day, however.
Students’ creations matched up against each other in a ‘round robin’ group stage until
four semi-finalists could be chosen. One highlight of the event was the success of the
all-girl teams, who outnumbered the boys in the semi-finals thanks to some well-engineered
designs. Last year’s winners David and Anna had tried a different approach with their
entry this year, opting for third-stage downshifting with all their weight over the
rear wheels. It was a risky strategy, and they only got out of the groups on
head-to-head record. In the semi-finals, they came up against the strong
four-wheel-drive entry built by the boys of Hatch Ride school, and just couldn’t
get close enough to the centre line in the allotted time!
“Claw Crusher” had an effective front end that managed to tip some of its opponents completely
upside down on its way to the semi-finals!
In the semi-finals, the favourites Anna and David (on the left) were held at the centre line by a K*bot
that proved too powerful for their ultra-torque gearbox to manage.
So the day’s final would be contested by two teams from Hatch Ride school –
and it would be between the boys’ team and the girls’ team! In the end, it was
an incredibly tight match that had to be measured with a tape measure at its
conclusion. By the slimmest of margins, the boys’ team had won it! But both teams
will be invited back to represent their school in the 2012-13 K*bots UK Challenge
Final at the end of the academic year.
The audience were captivated by an incredibly close Final between the two teams from Hatch Ride
school in Wokingham. It was decided by tape measure!
“Claw Crusher”, built by Ellis and Vanya, eventually emerged victorious and qualifies for the
Regional Final as an event winner!
K*bots UK will be visiting several more schools over the next few months to find
out who will join the qualifying teams from this event in the Grand Final in the
summer term. By Toby Owen K*bots UK Review (November 7, 2012)
Click on the Thame Gazette UK article
on Oliver Jackson and Jimmie O’Connell
On the 2nd July 2011, the first annual K*bots In Schools Championships were held
at The Coombes CE Primary school in Wokingham, UK.
K*bots In Schools is an initiative run by Toby Wheeler, who has visited a number
of schools and educational groups over the last 12 months to run one-day building
workshops for pupils working independently or in teams to build motorised pushing
machines. Last week, the very best builders from each school were invited back to
represent their schools in the national championships. The competition ran in two
parts; a Key Stage 2 event (for children attending primary school or equivalent age)
and a Key Stage 3 event (for children attending secondary school
or equivalent age, up to 14 yrs old).
However, the biggest news occurred before the matches had even gotten underway.
Undoubtedly the most powerful British K*bot built by a Key Stage 2 competitor was
Anna Wilson’s 2-wheel-drive machine constructed in Cookley this Easter. This
K*bot would have dominated the younger building category; however, Anna didn’t
turn up for the event, thus forfeiting a probable trophy and the £100
Her unexpected absence really opened up the field, and it was game on during the
morning session as all the teams made tweaks and improvements to their K*bots
in order to gain a competitive edge.
The team from Nine Mile Ride school, Berkshire, made major changes to their
K*bot in the morning, adding second-stage downshifting to their four-wheel-drive
The team from Franche Community Primary school, Worcestershire, had each
constructed a K*bot themselves - giving them twice the chance of winning a trophy!
When the competitions got underway, sixteen Key Stage 2 K*bots were drawn into
four qualifying groups. It was already apparent that even getting out of the group
would be a tough challenge, such was the closeness of the field. As expected, there
were plenty of cheers for the home team (five K*bots represented The Coombes
school) but a couple of other entries particularly caught the eye.
Tom Palmer (Cookley Sebright Primary school, Worcestershire) had the most
complex machine, with a third-stage gearbox housed inside a tall two-wheel-drive
chassis. Unfortunately, his K*bot’s height counted against him, and in the
quarter-finals the front end snapped off and the whole K*bot toppled over backwards.
And in the Key Stage 3 competition, a K*bot named “Spike” (built by students from
the Oxford Home Education Group) sported a giant suspension-mounted cage on the
front, to trap its opponents.
The moment when Tom Palmer, one of the favourites, went toppling out of the
competition. He was beaten by "Hot Rod" (right), built by Daniel Gallagher from
The Coombes CE School.
Spike (on the right) deploys its ‘cage’ mounted at the front, to get underneath other
K*bots and lift their front wheels off the floor. Here, the team used it to win their
second round match.
The Key Stage 3 competition witnessed some outstandingly-engineered machines,
but one machine was unstoppable. Beating even the mighty Incredible Bulk, built
by James Myatt, was a new machine constructed in just one day by a team of
competitors from Oxford named Yellow Menace. It won Key Stage 3 with a clean
sweep! A definite contender for a World Championship this July.
Jim and Oliver, builders of “Yellow Meance”, show off their Key Stage 3 Championship trophy.
Yellow Menace, a very powerful machine, will be coming to the World Championships
in July 2011.
It was Key Stage 2, however, that really stole the show. With eleven different
schools taking part, the competition narrowed down to just four semi-finalists. Our
hosts The Coombes looked to be on their way into the final, when a freak gearbox
failure saw them stranded and powerless to avoid defeat as Joe Cooke (Hatch Ride
Primary school) and Inesh Kamani (Gorse Ride Primary school) pushed their way
to the final.
There they met a Worcestershire entrant, William Hawkins, representing Franche
Community Primary School. With four-wheel-drive and second-stage downshifting,
Will certainly had the stronger machine. This more advanced engineering was enough
to give him the edge, and he duly won the final and the event, becoming the first ever
K*bots In Schools UK Champion!
Will (Franche) and Inesh (Gorse Ride) pose for the camera before the Key Stage 2 Final.
Four-wheel-drive bests two-wheel-drive, as Will films the moment on his camera phone.
May 2011 UK K*bot action photos from Toby Wheeler
Ana’s Journey : Seven Years in the Making
Article by Toby Wheeler
K*bots was first set up in the UK in 2004, following my visit to America for the
2003 K*bot World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada USA. I liked what I saw,
and decided to set up Division 1 and 2 in Britain. Our very first event was in a little
village called Alvescote, near Oxford, in April 2004. Only a few children came to that
event, and little did we know that amongst them were two who were going to have a
massive impact on the world of K*bots in the future. Their names were Andrew Martin,
aged 10, and Ana Partridge, only just eligible aged 8 years old.
Andrew’s story has already been told, and in fact he achieved stardom almost immediately.
In many ways Ana’s story is the more interesting, because it took her seven years to reach
the pinnacle of K*bots. This article will show you what myself and Mr V have been telling
you for years – that hard work and perseverance will get you to where you want to be.
The early years
At just 8 years old, Ana competed in Britain’s first K*bots event in April 2004. Her Division 1
and M machines were as you’d expect for someone in their first event, but it was in Division 3
that she showed flashes of real promise. At the time, Ravage was being used for the very
first time, and Ana used it to create a multi-directional drive K*bot named Kitty. She won the
Alvescote event with it, and though that had much to do with the quality of the opposition, it
nevertheless marked her out as one to watch.
This was confirmed one year later, when Ana went to work on a new Division 1 K*bot called
Bingo. Continuing her personal theme of building machines that looked like animals, Ana put
together a dog-shaped K*bot with a clever gearing arrangement that made the tail turn whenever
it moved. It might not have been a great pusher, but the signs of engineering potential were evident.
Kitty (top) and Bingo (bottom), Ana’s first two competitive K*bots from 2004.
Ana came back to events in 2006 and 2007, gradually improving her machines and
learning about concepts such as downshifting (gear reduction) and multi-pivot flippers
in the process. Bingo went through several evolutions until it was included in the
line-up for the first ever UK Championship, held in October 2007, where Ana stunned
everyone present (and surprised even herself!) by defeating Andrew Martin’s
highly-rated machine en route to an appearance in the Final, where she finished
runner-up to Sam Steel. In that same event, Kitty also contested Division 3 but was
unsuccessful, although the major shock came when Ana piloted a multi-pivot flipper
to the first Division M UK title, again beating Andrew Martin in the process. Despite
her humble claims to participating (she had never won a trophy before the
UK Championships), Ana had come good on the day. She was starting to earn a
reputation as an emerging K*bot builder.
Ana tests some improvements to Bingo in 2007.
Bingo’s crowning moment, facing off against Sam Steel in the UK Championship Final.
Growing up with K*bots
In 2008, K*bots UK organised our first event in tandem with Cookley Primary school –
an event which has gone on to become our biggest and most competitive event on the
calendar. Ana attended that event and, then aged 12 with four years of K*bots experience
to call on, started work on a new K*bot. She wanted to show off everything she had learnt
about gearing, structure and active chassis, and put it into a Division 1 entry that would
replace the outdated Bingo. The name of this new machine? Destiny.
The new K*bot was an awkward-looking thing but it had all the bits in the right places,
including a second-stage gearbox. Despite some inevitable teething troubles, it won the
2008 Cookley event in Division 1. For the record, Kitty took part in a K*bots event for the
fifth successive year (a record to rival Godzilla), but went out in Round 1.
Ana poses with all of her K*bots, both old and new, at the 2008 Cookley event.
Destiny was unbeatable in the Division 1 competition that year.
In 2008, with K*bots in the UK booming, David and I decided to bite the bullet
and pay for TWO students to attend the 2008 K*bot World Championships.
Ana wasn’t chosen, but Destiny was taken to America under the care of
Andrew Martin. It really couldn’t have been in better hands. Andrew stripped
and rebuilt the gearbox and re-allocated some of the high weight, producing
a far tidier chassis. Ana’s K*bot made it to the quarter-finals of the 2008 World
Championships, though its exploits were overshadowed by the successes
of Sam Steel that year.
When Ana next attended a K*bots event, in 2009, great things were expected.
However, life began to get in the way. She attended just two days in Cookley
2009 and could not participate in the final. Worse, when the UK Championships
rolled round again, Ana was otherwise engaged in a St. George’s Day march
with the scouts. It looked as though her K*bots journey was over prematurely.
By 2010, with Ana 14 years old, it was becoming clear that she would not be part
of K*bots for much longer. Her building ability and level of understanding were at
their peak, and so it was decided that her K*bots would undertake one final challenge
before being retired after an incredible seven years of service. Destiny was sent to
the 2010 K*bot World Championships, as were two of Ana’s other creations.
All of them were capable of ruffling American feathers, but it seems fitting that Destiny
was the one that triumphed. Just like Ana, it was the product of several years of learning
and improvement. It had taken part in many events prior to the 2010 World Championships
with gradually advancing results, and in my eyes had earned its right to represent Britain
on the international stage.
Ana Partridge has been a part of K*bots in the UK since K*bots in the UK first began. With
her K*bot World Championship victory in Las Vegas, and subsequent retirement from
competition, 2010 marked the end of an era. Destiny has won its place in the record books,
and Ana’s name has entered the archives of K*bot history as the first girl to win a
K*bot World Championship. In my view, there is no-one who has worked harder for it,
or deserves it more.
UK History to the K*bot World Championships
The passing of a legend
Crosshair. 2004 Division 2 World Champion K*bot. 2005 semi-finalist. 2007 finalist.
2008 semi-finalist. Two UK regional titles. But, in 2009, it exited the competition in the
very first round. The writing was on the wall: It was time to retire Andrew Martin’s famous
K*bot and confine it to the Hall of Fame. Crosshair has set UK records which will, most
likely, never be beaten. It’s the British Godzilla – although it achieved something which
Godzilla never did, and that was to win a K*bot World Championship.
2010 will be the first World Championship for eight years that will not feature Crosshair – and
the first EVER time that the UK have entered without it. If that doesn’t mark the end of an era, I
don’t know what does!
February 2010 : K*bots comes to Marling
A first-time venue for K*bots in 2010, Marling School of Engineering in Cheltenham opened its
gates in February to host a four-day workshop to kick-start the new UK season. England’s
latest champion Sam Steel turned up on day 1 to give the new students some pointers, but he
was unable to stay for the rest of the week, meaning that Cheltenham’s rookies would be first
on the score sheet for 2010.
The biggest news of the week was the testing of a new Division, known as “alternative mobility”,
which featured regular K*bots but built without any wheels. Students turned to legs or tracks
to make their K*bots move, and overall it was a modest success. The first champion of the new
division was Alex Johnson with his design named Jimbot.
Division 1 and 2 were amalgamated for this event, leading to a spectacularly
powerful contest between very different design philosophies. A four-wheel-drive
entry eventually won the day, The Unnameable, built by Zak Elkins.
In Division M, multi-pivot flippers and turret hammers ruled the day. The eventual
winner was the UK’s first ever turret hammer builder, namely Alex Morgan with the
aptly-named Dark Horse.
April 2010 : Clash of the Titans
As exciting as Marling was, it was really just a taster of what was to come at
Cookley during the Easter holidays. Cookley is regularly the host of Britain’s
biggest and most competitive event, but 2010 simply blew everything else out of
the water. The “alternative mobility” division was on show again, and
James Myatt proved that engineering class is universal by building the winning
design, making it three trophies in three years – with three different K*bots!
But that was all swept under the carpet by the prominence of Division 1 and –
for the first time – Division 3.
Chris Millward-Jones finally won his first trophies after three years of popular support,
emerging triumphant in both Division 3 and Division M.
The amalgamated Division 1 and 2, however, truly stole the show. An incredible
five K*bots were in the mix for victory all week, amongst them James Myatt’s
successful entrant The Incredible Bulk and Daniel Johnson’s 2009 UK Champion
K*bot Fiddlesticks. In an unexpected twist, however, unranked upstart Ancel Davidson
took out Daniel in the semi-finals, which meant he went on to face Bulk in the Final.
It went all the way to table-tapping and measuring tape, but the result was unexpected
nonetheless: It was Ancel Davidson who had upset the big names of British K*bots
to win the most competitive event of the year!
Email Toby Wheeler (K*bots UK Regional Co-Coordinator)
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