YOUNG robot builders from The County High School, Leftwich, have won a place in the national finals of a LEGO challenge.

A worldwide tournament to build global problem-solving robots out of LEGO has a new regional UK champion following a day of engineering excitement at the University of Birmingham.

The County High School, Leftwich, will now go through to the national finals of the FIRST LEGO League Challenge, from which a team will be chosen to represent the UK at the World Festival in the US city of St Louis in Missouri.

Teacher Gareth Valiant said: “When the curriculum changed to promote computer science the FIRST Lego League Challenge enthused already tech-savvy students.

“It provides an ideal opportunity to further develop computer-coding skills as well as problem-solving and team-working strategies, in keeping with the Academy’s mission - Learning for Employability.

“To date students from years seven to 10 have won the Best Project or Robot Game categories.

“However, this year, we were immensely proud and thrilled when the team excelled in all sections and became overall champions.”

FlRST LEGO League is a global science and technology challenge for teams of schoolchildren aged nine to 16 aimed at encouraging an interest in real-world issues and developing key careers skills.

The youngsters work together to explore a given topic and to design, build and programme an autonomous LEGO robot to solve a series of missions.

More than 233,000 children from more than 80 countries are competing in this year’s challenge, which is entitled Trash Trek.

The aim is to build robot structures using LEGO to deal with the collection, sorting, smart production and re-use of rubbish.

More than 100 children from 12 schools across the West Midlands, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire battled it out in the regional leg at the University of Birmingham.

Each team of up to 10 children presented their research project into mastering the disposal and recycling of rubbish, and displayed their prowess in designing, building and programming a robot.

Teams were also assessed on their team-working, robot design and the performance of their robot in undertaking 12 missions, from salvage and composting to transport and demolition.

Dr Tim Jackson, senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham’s School of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering, hoped the contest would inspire youngsters to take up degrees and apprenticeships in engineering.

“It’s a fun way to learn more about science and engineering, as well as important global issues, and we hope it will encourage the young people who took part to consider doing degrees and apprenticeships in engineering,” he said.