Belvidere School is an 11-16 mixed comprehensive school in the picturesque Medieval Market Town of Shrewsbury. It is sited in attractive and extensive grounds bordering open fields down to the River Severn. It has approximately 800 students on roll. Shrewsbury is located just a few kilometres from the remains of the Roman city of Wroxeter, with Ironbridge (the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution) to its east and the border with Wales to its west.
The school has been a Technology College since 2004, specialising in Technology, Science and Mathematics, and a training college since 2008, specialising in training new teaching staff from across the country.
We have a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and our aim is to combine good personal relationships with a sound work ethic, which we regard as an appropriate preparation for the working environment our students will meet when they leave us at sixteen.
Robotics was introduced into the Design & Technology Curriculum at Belvidere School in 1999 by Assistant Headteacher Mark Walton, when he was Head of the Design & Technology (D&T) Department. Belvidere was one of the first schools in the UK to embed robotics in its curriculum. Classwork is based on the LEGO MINDSTORMS and WeDo robotics construction systems.
In order to establish state-of-the-art facilities for teaching Design & Technology, Mark Walton approached hundreds of local companies in the West Midlands and was successful in obtaining a large grant from the Alcoa Foundation for the construction of a purpose-built Centre comprising robotics, electronics and product design laboratories, technician's workshop, laser cutters, rapid prototyper and other facilities. The Alcoa Foundation Centre was opened in 2002. It is one of the UK's leading providers of in-service teacher training in electronics and robotics.
In 2003, Dr Ashley Green of The Open University established an after-school Robot Club which competes in the annual RoboCupJunior and FIRST LEGO League competitions. The school sent two RoboSoccer teams to represent the UK at RoboCup 2006 in Bremen, Germany as part of an EU-funded Comenius project involving schools from the UK, Germany and Portugal. All the Comenius teams' robots had bodies fabricated using Belvidere School's laser cutting facilities.
In October 2007, Belvidere School became the first Roberta Regional Centre (RRC) in the UK, and hosted a 2-day teacher training workshop in its Alcoa Centre. The workshop was run by computer scientists from AIS Fraunhofer and the University of Magdeburg, Germany. The RRC has ten LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT sets available for short-term loan to schools and colleges.
The main contributions the Robot Club has made to the Comenius GENII Euro Soccer Robot project have been the laser cutting of acrylic robot chassis plates for some of our partner schools, and assisting with the development of the new Elekit RCJ-05 pulsed IR soccer ball and HiTechnic IRSeekerV2 sensor. Dr Green consulted many people in the international RCJ community and corresponded with the directors of Elekit in Japan and HiTechnic in the United States while assisting the RCJ Soccer Technical Committee to prepare the specifications for the new ball (see the Technical Items page for details of those specifications). Robot Club members assisted with the development of the new ball and sensor by evaluating pototypes and beta testing NXT-G Sensor Blocks. Owing to our close relationship with Elekit and HiTechnic, we were able to obtain production versions well in advance of their general release.
2009 was the bicentenary of the birth of Shrewsbury's most famous son, Charles Darwin. The Robot Club was invited to lead a Naturebots project involving three schools, to develop robot demonstrations for the Shift Time Festival of Ideas which was held in Shrewsbury as part of the bicentennial celebrations. Belvidere School hosted a Naturebots workshop for all the junior roboticists involved in the Festival.
Three members of the Robot Club attended the Comenius project meeting at HTBLA Weiz on 30th June 2009 and participated in RoboCup 2009 in Graz.
Belvidere School hosted the next Comenius project meeting in October 2009. The two-day meeting included a one-day Roberta workshop and a tour of Shrewsbury's medieval centre led by the town crier, Martin Wood.
Three members of the Robot Club attended the Comenius project meeting at RoCCI Vöhringen on 4th March 2010. While in Bavaria, they visited the Geopark Ries and Neuschwanstein Castle.
Soccer robots built by RoCCI Vöhringen using chassis parts laser cut at Belvidere School.
Dr Green represented Belvidere School at the final Comenius GENII Euro Soccer Robot project meeting held at Alsike Skola in Sweden on 6th May 2010.
Dr Green represented Belvidere School at the first Comenius European Dance Robots project meeting held at Bishop Challoner Catholic College in Birmingham, UK on 22nd October 2010.
Dr Green also represented Belvidere School at the second project meeting held at RoCCI Vöhringen on 26th May 2011.
We weren't able to send a team to RoboCup 2011 (for which Dr Green was RoboCupJunior General Chair) in July, but we contributed a robot dinosaur (which was transformed into a robot sabre-toothed tiger!) and some acrylic laser-cutouts of the pet dinosaur Dino to the "Comenius Flintstones" Primary Dance team from Lessing-Gymnasium and Simpert-Kraemer-Gymnasium. "Comenius Flinstones" made it through to the Primary Dance finals in Istanbul.
Six members of the Robot Club attended the Comenius project meeting at SKG Krumbach on 6th October 2011. While in Bavaria, they visited Neuschwanstein Castle and the Deutsches Museum, Munich.
Belvidere School hosted the next Comenius project meeting in December 2011.
The group from SKG Krumbach visited Wroxeter Roman City and Enginuity.
Seven members of the Robot Club participated in the Comenius robot dance workshop and presentations at HTBLA Weiz on 25th-26th April 2012.
After the project presentations on 26th April, all the participants went on a 2-hour hike together along the Raab Gorge near Weiz.
All the participants from Belvidere School and our three German partner schools stayed together at the Hotel Meazza in Graz. Our group did some sightseeing in Graz on 27th April, and then went to an open evening at Graz University of Technology.
Unfortunately, Dr Green was seriously injured in a motorway accident shortly after returning to Shrewsbury from Austria, and our two dance robots that he'd brought back with him were crushed in the back of his car. Because he was still in hospital, three other teachers from Belvidere School took eight members of the robot club to the final Comenius project meeting held at Lessing-Gymnasium in Neu-Ulm on 3rd July 2012.