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Ministers pay out for robot wars

MASTERCLASSES on building brutally destructive robots are to be held in schools across England.

The Department for Education and Skills is giving pound;144,600 to fund Family Robot Days, a pilot project with the BBC to raise interest in design and technology and increase parental involvement.

Each of the 100 schools taking part will run at least six half-day workshops for families between June and November.

Novice "roboteers" will be given simple kits to build. More ambitious families will be able to construct machines for the television series Techno Games, where robots compete in sports events, or Robot Wars, where machines try to destroy each other with chainsaws and other weaponry.

Expert robot-builders from both programmes have agreed to visit the schools to offer tips.

Dorian Caudy, head of design and technology at Morriston comprehensive in Swansea, and his pupils at Morriston, have entered several machines for Techno Games and three for Robot Wars. Their latest battle robot "Mini-Morg" is encased in titanium, and features a flipper for overturning opponents and a spinning disc with jagged teeth.

"Design and technology is not in vogue at the moment, but it's popular here because the machines are fraught with danger and we're constantly on TV," Mr Caudy said.

Interested schools should email learning.database@bbc.co.uk or visit www.bbc.co.ukbeyond

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