Recycling robot recognised

CITY of Whittlesea students have won a state-wide award for creating a walking school bus robot – an invention that walks students to school and collects organic and food wastefor the school compost bin.

The robot was designed by 12 students who participate in the Makers Club at Mill Park Library each week.

Club coach Edmond Lascaris, who works in council’s waste team, said the group focused on design, electronics and coding.During the school holidays students worked on a project to enter in the Victorian Design Challenge 2019.

“The challenge invites design professionals and students to tackle the great challenges of our time – waste,” he said.

“It aims to inspire impactful and implementable solutions that demonstrate the value of design and creativity as a way to a better future.”

The team came up with the idea of a robot that could not only walk kids to school but would also be able to carry organic and food waste from home to take to school for composting.

Named R3, short for ‘reduce, reuse and recycle, the robot has compartments to transport litter and food waste.

Children will follow the robot and the children will pick up litter and rubbish along their way to school every day.

The team pitched their design to a jury – including the ABC’s War on Waste’s Craig Reucassel – at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of Melbourne Design Week.

The robot won the school student category. Students will receive a one-day tailored learning package at the NGV including talks and an exhibition tour.

Mayor Lawrie Cox said the project was a great example of council partnering with the community and young people to foster creativity and innovation.

“Our young people are not only the key to our future, they offer solutions for now,” he said.

Council painted lines around Mill Park Library to help students with the testing of their robot and have committed to a trial of the Robot Walking School Bus around Plenty Parklands Primary School.

But the group’s dreams don’t end here.

“Our R3 model could easily be implemented in other schools- because as a proof of concept – we designed, built and coded R3 ourselves, just to show how easy it could be,” the group said.

“We are planning to conduct free workshops on how to code and build R3 through schools, libraries and websites and other free community spaces.

“Our Robot Walking School Bus here will help reduce stress for parents all over the world, help reduce the number of suffering wildlife on this planet, reduce amounts of food waste entering landfills, encourage more students to be healthy and active, learn about technology, computer coding and encourage everyone to reduce, reduse and recycle.”