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Technology - Robots spark interest

Primary pupils are making their own robots with kits from Heriot-Watt University.

Schools get one kit for every three pupils involved, free of charge. The P6-7 projects run for two to six weeks.

Jim Herd, a lecturer in electronic engineering at the university, said 2,390 pupils at 58 schools had signed up for this academic year. Part of the appeal was that the project had been designed for teachers with little technological expertise.

The project gives pupils a chance to work with the latest in small robot technology, without it being hidden in a "faceless grey box". It is intended to counteract the waning enthusiasm for science and maths that affects many pupils as they progress into secondary school.

"Much of modern technology is invisible and seems nothing short of magic," Dr Herd said. "In fact, it is developed by many thousands of engineers throughout the world.

"We are keen to make sure that pupils see past the `magic' and understand that there are many incredibly interesting careers for budding electronic engineers."

Funding was initially provided through the UK Government's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, but now comes from SELEX Galileo, a multinational defence electronics company with a large base in Edinburgh.

www.robokid.org.uk.

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