Students code their way to victory at CEDoW mBot Challenge Finals

News | Students code their way to victory at CEDoW mBot Challenge Finals

Posted 10 September 2019 by Catholic Education in News

Robots ready to rumble! After weeks of practising and refining their coding, students across the diocese who qualified for the CEDoW 2019 mBot Challenge Finals were set to let their mBots do the talking! The culmination of northern and southern regional rounds, the Finals saw over 250 people pack into the Fraternity Club at Fairy Meadow to cheer their teams on, as students coded their mBots to battle, dance and race their way to success.

A part of CEDoW’s STEM Strategy and range of STEM initiatives, the annual CEDoW mBot Coding Challenge invites teams of students from our primary and secondary schools to enjoy a fun, competitive atmosphere to put their coding abilities to the test, as well as demonstrate key skills around creativity, resilience and teamwork and other STEM-rich thinking.

The competition requires students to solve problems using mBots – small STEM education robots that make learning robot programming fun. The challenges allow students to grasp the fundamentals of coding and block-based programming, while developing their computational thinking, STEM learning and their engineering, collaborative and problem-solving skills in an exciting and engaging way. Click here to skip to the mBot Challenge Finals results.

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Over the past few months, students at our diocesan Catholic schools have been learning to code in preparation for three main challenges – programming their mBot to muscle other mBots out of a sumo ring in the 'Sumo Stadium' competition; navigating their mBot through a maze in the 'A-Mazing Race' competition; and coding choreography for a dance routine for mBots in the ‘So You Think Your Robot Can Dance’ competition.

Competition Rules:

Sumo Stadium

mBot challenge sumo

Get your mBot ready for battle in the ancient Japanese art of sumo wrestling. Program your robot to search for your opponent using its ultrasonic sensor, and when found, attack!

Two robots are placed facing outward, 15cm apart in the middle of the ring - a raised timber disc area with an 80cm diameter, the in-bounds marked by a thin white border at the perimeter of the ring.

The mBot is coded prior and once the match has started, the mBot cannot receive any outside assistance. The autonomous robots must try to avoid falling out or being pushed out by the opponent robot. The first robot that touches outside of the ring loses the round and the match is over.

All robots compete in at least 3 matches, with the best robots going through to the day's finals. 

More information on 'Sumo Stadium' here

A-Mazing Race

mBot challenge maze

This competition tests the robot's response to its sensors, accurate movement and strategy of the programmer. The objective is for the robot to locate the opening and exit the maze from each of the three starting positions, in the shortest time possible.

The maze is 1.2m x 1.2m and contains a border around the outside, as well as for the maze elements. The exact layout of the maze is not revealed until 30 minutes before the competition begins. Each team must use this time to code three different strategies for the three different starting-point-to-exit pathways.

Each of the three pathway attempts are timed, with any robot that does not exit the maze within 120 seconds is stopped and assigned 120 seconds for that attempt. The total of each team’s times is their final score, with the lowest total score winning. 

More information on 'A-Mazing Race' here

So You Think Your Robot Can Dance

mBot challenge dance

Entertain, delight and thrill the audience with dancing robots! There are two phases to this competition, both of which involve coding the robot to be autonomous. The robots can be decorated in any fashion, with points being awarded for student made designs. Teams can supply their own surface, marked or decorated in any way they choose.

In Phase 1, teams must prepare coding for a single mBot or a team of mBots to dance to music of their choice, for 30-60 seconds on a 1m x 1m dance floor.

Phase 2 involves choreographing a dance for their robot onsite. Teams are given a song and a 30 minute time period to code their robot using the skills learned previously – with points awarded for the quality of the programming, costumes, choreography, synchronised lights and music, and the design of the dance floor.

More information on 'So You Think Your Robot Can Dance' here


Another aspect of the mBot Challenge – designed to boost student collaborative learning – is the most prestigious award given at regionals level, the Mary MacKillop Award. Congratulations to the following schools whose students won Mary MacKillop Awards this year:

gold trophycupMary Immaculate Eagle Vale

gold trophycupSt Clare’s Narellan Vale

gold trophycupSt Michael’s Thirroul

gold trophycupStella Maris Shellharbour

The MacKillop tokens award system encourages teams to, as Mary MacKillop said, 'never see a need without doing something about it'. All participating students and staff start the day with Mary MacKillop tokens that they gift to other students and teams who go out of their way to assist others with challenges – the teams with the most tokens winning the award and a wild card entry into the mBot Finals. The concept turns the days into fantastic opportunities to help build the capacity of all students present, with teams motivated to share ideas and code, and collaborate with other teams.

190911 mBot challenge Collage 1 designs

Hundreds of students from infants to Year 10 across the diocese began this year’s mBot Challenge locally at their schools last term, with teams progressing to the two regional mBot competitions [see Regionals Results here] – culminating in the 2019 mBot Challenge Finals, where 80 students from 10 schools made up the top 22 teams battling to be named overall CEDoW champions.

Congratulations to the following schools for their qualification and participation in the 2019 mBot Challenge Finals:

Congratulations to winners of the 2019 mBot Challenge Finals:

2019 mBot Finals Results (Primary)


1st gold medal1st – Hammer of Justice (St Paul's Albion Park)

2nd silver medal2nd – Metal Machines (Stella Maris Shellharbour)

3rd bronze medal3rd  – Annoying (St Michael's Thirroul)


1st gold medal1st – Bot Dominators (Mary Immaculate Eagle Vale)

2nd silver medal2nd – Tech Masters (St John's Campbelltown)

3rd bronze medal3rd – Wall-E (Holy Cross Helensburgh)


1st gold medal1st – Bot Dominators (Mary Immaculate Eagle Vale)

2nd silver medal2nd – Little Fat Potato (St Michael's Thirroul)

3rd bronze medal3rd – Diamonds (Stella Maris Shellharbour)


2019 mBot Finals Results (Secondary)


1st gold medal1st – The Martians (Mount Carmel Varroville)

2nd silver medal2nd – Marechi (Mount Carmel Varroville)

3rd bronze medal3rd – Ichobi (Mount Carmel Varroville)


1st gold medal1st – Marechi (Mount Carmel Varroville)

2nd silver medal2nd – Ichobi (Mount Carmel Varroville)

3rd bronze medal3rd – The Martians (Mount Carmel Varroville) 

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We spoke to some of the winning teams and schools about their mBot Challenge experience...

Mount Carmel Varroville

Mount Carmel Catholic College, Varroville students arrived in force to the mBot Finals, having taken out the Northern Regionals in a clean sweep in two of the three competitions.

Mount Carmel Learning Technologies Coordinator, David Teuma, praised the Mount Carmel students for excelling in both the ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and ‘A-Mazing Race’ competitions, demonstrating determined creativity, collaboration, and engineering skills to win 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in both. 

“The Mbot Challenge was an amazing experience for students all over the diocese to come together and engage in STEM activities. Our students loved the opportunity to use their coding skills, as well as develop their problem-solving and design abilities. The interest at Mount Carmel has been phenomenal and already students are enquiring about being involved next year and defending our titles!” —  David Teuma, Learning Technologies Coordinator, Mount Carmel Varroville

190911 mBot challenge MCV

Year 9 student, Charlotte, said she most enjoyed the competitive environment of the day, and especially how driven everyone was to improve and win.

“I learned that it’s not about getting it on the first shot, but learning and improving each time... so, along with achieving the goal, you pick up a range of different skills too. The goal is important, but the journey and process to get there is what makes the goal so worth it.” 

Fellow Year 9 student and participant, Tahlia, said the best part of the experience was “watching the product of weeks’ worth of discussion and designing come to life in the form of our mBot dance”.

“Feeling the encouraging environment around us as the various teams competed was a reminder of all the hard work we put into the tasks together. Working as a team meant more ideas could be shared and communication skills, developed, to refine the design throughout the process and achieve our end goal. This opportunity to learn new skills off teammates and other competitors made the experience highly enjoyable” — Tahlia, Year 9 student, Mount Carmel Varroville

Mary Immaculate Eagle Vale

In just their first mBot competition, Mary Immaculate Eagle Vale’s ‘Bot Dominators’ team – made up of Baxter, Liam, Isabel and Mia – were ecstatic to win 1st place in the diocese in both the ‘A-Mazing Race’ and ‘So You Think Your Robot Can Dance’ competitions!

Year 6 student, Liam, said he enjoyed seeing the schools all work really well together, despite officially trying to beat each other. “We shared hints with teams from other schools that we could see struggling a little bit, and so did other schools.” 

“The best activity for me was the A-Mazing Race. The mBots were a challenge to use and we had to be very precise with our coding, but we were able to complete the maze really quickly at the most difficult level. The mBot Challenge taught me how to code better, and to cooperate with my team by listening to all the input and testing ideas. We never failed, we just kept trying a different code until we cracked it” — Liam, Year 6 student, Mary Immaculate Eagle Vale

Year 5 student, Isabelle, said her favourite part of the competition was coding the mBots to dance. “This exciting activity taught me how to work better with others and to be open to other ideas. It was fun decorating the mBots too! It was a great experience to code and work with different people,” she added.

Teachers, Nicole Mortimer and Megan Price, commended the students on their fantastic efforts, including all the preparation in lunchtime hours leading up to the competition – especially considering they’d only received their mBots to begin learning to code them a few weeks before the competition. 

“Our school goal this year was to simply enter into the various diocesan STEM initiatives; doing so well in the competition was an added bonus! The team was so excited to experience such success, as was the whole school – after winning, the students were swamped with peer support at assembly and for the rest of the day,” Ms Mortimer said.

“The confidence our participants now have moving forward is amazing. By being a part of this mBot Challenge, the students have had opportunities to develop many skills including communication, creativity, math problem-solving and resilience. They particularly enjoyed being able to share their knowledge of coding with other students back at school, and are looking forward to more challenges ahead” — Nicole Mortimer, teacher, Mary Immaculate Eagle Vale

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St Paul's Albion Park

St Paul's Albion Park Year 5 students, Tim, Chloe and Sean, competed at the mBot Finals as team ‘Hammer of Justice’, after qualifying through the Southern mBot competition in Term 2 and winning a special 'Best Engineering Innovation Award' there.

They put their coding and engineering skills to the test against other teams from across the diocese, and after a lot of hard work, creativity and teamwork (and some close calls!), they were proud to be crowned CEDoW champions of the 'Sumo Stadium' competition.

“Well done to Chloe, Tim and Sean for their wonderful effort and enthusiasm with their coding and problem-solving. They often gave up their own lunchtimes to continue to develop their skills, so they can be very proud of this achievement. It was a wonderful way to begin National Science Week for St Paul's” — Andrew Edwards, Acting Middle Leader, St Paul’s Albion Park

The students thoroughly enjoyed the “amazing” and “fun and challenging” mBot experience. “I got to make new friends and learn more about my old ones. I learned some new codes too. It was a great time for bonding,” Chloe said. 

“The best part was learning and having fun battling people. We overcame challenges as a team, which helped develop our teamwork skills. It also helped me be able to say my ideas and explain things out loud,” Tim said.

“I liked how the other teams were good sports even when they lost, and how we all learned new skills and made new friends,” Sean said.

190911 mBot challenge SPAP

Stella Maris Shellharbour

Four teams of Years 5 and 6 students from Stella Maris Shellharbour travelled to The Fraternity to compete in the mBot Finals. The students have been involved in coding on their iPads at school and have enjoyed the mBot Challenge as an opportunity to work collaboratively in a competitive environment.

Teacher, Adam O’Grady, said throughout the finals night, the students displayed a range of critical 21st century skills including communicating, collaborating, creativity and critical thinking. A special mention to the 'Metal Machines' team, who achieved 2nd place overall in the 'Sumo Stadium' competition.

“All the teams represented themselves and their school extremely well, showing team spirit, problem-solving skills and resilience. A big thank you to the parents and teachers who came along and supported the students in the mBot Finals. It was a terrific night” — Adam O’Grady, teacher, Stella Maris Shellharbour

“Congratulations to all the students involved, who have spent numerous lunchtimes and hours outside of school preparing their mBot codes and costumes for the competition,” he said.

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St John's Campbelltown

The St John the Evangelist Campbelltown team of students, the ‘Tech Masters’, showed perseverance and dedication in their competitions at the Northern Regionals [see video below], and prided themselves on lending a hand to students from other schools who needed an idea or two.

The team proceeded to the mBot Finals, where they took on challenges with enthusiasm, collaborating with one another to problem-solve to success. They were thrilled when their hard work led to 2nd place overall in the 'A-Mazing Race' competition!


CLICK HERE to view the 2019 mBot Challenge Regionals Results

Students from sixteen of our CEDoW schools competed in this year's two regional competitions. Across both the northern and southern competitions, an incredible 31 teams competed in the 'Sumo Stadium' competition; 25 teams in the 'A-Mazing Race'; and 27 teams in 'So You Think Your Robot Can Dance'. The results are below.



Sumo Stadium (Primary):

1st gold medalAnnoying (St Michael's Thirroul)

2nd silver medalKFC (St Clare's Narellan Vale)

3rd bronze medalTech Masters (St John's Campbelltown)

Sumo Stadium (Primary):

1st gold medalMEELK (Ss Peter & Paul Kiama)

2nd silver medalHammer of Justice (St Paul's Albion Park)

3rd bronze medalBot Boys (Stella Maris Shellharbour)

So You Think Your Robot Can Dance (Primary):

1st gold medalLittle Fat Potato (St Michael's Thirroul)

2nd silver medalBot Dominators (Mary Immaculate Eagle Vale)

3rd bronze medalThe Stars (St Clare's Narellan Vale)

So You Think Your Robot Can Dance (Primary):

1st gold medalDiamonds (Stella Maris Shellharbour)

2nd silver medalLe Amigos (Ss Peter & Paul Kiama)

3rd bronze medalSt Therese West Wollongong

A-Mazing Race (Primary):

1st gold medalTech Masters (St John's Campbelltown)

2nd silver medalBot Dominators (Mary Immaculate Eagle Vale)

3rd bronze medalRainbow Rock (St Clare's Narellan Vale)

A-Mazing Race (Primary):

1st gold medalWall-E (Holy Cross Helensburgh)

2nd silver medalStella Girls (Stella Maris Shellharbour)

3rd bronze medalSpudnick (Holy Cross Helensburgh)

So You Think Your Robot Can Dance (Secondary):

1st gold medalIchobi (Mount Carmel Varroville)

2nd silver medalMarechi (Mount Carmel Varroville)

3rd bronze medalThe Martians (Mount Carmel Varroville)

So You Think Your Robot Can Dance (Secondary):

1st gold medalIbis (Corpus Christi Oak Flats)

A-Mazing Race (Secondary):

1st gold medalThe Martians (Mount Carmel Varroville)

2nd silver medalMarechi (Mount Carmel Varroville)

3rd bronze medalIchobi (Mount Carmel Varroville)

A-Mazing Race (Secondary):

1st gold medalIbis (Corpus Christi Oak Flats)



Sumo Stadium (Secondary):

1st gold medalIbis (Corpus Christi Oak Flats)


slr camera icon 11 256View our photo gallery from the mBot Challenge Finals and Northern Regional competition here

Congratulations to all students who participated in the CEDoW 2019 mBot Challenge and thank you to all participating and organising teachers for providing your students the opportunity to excel in STEM!


MEANWHILE in robotics in our CEDoW schools…

St Paul’s Moss Vale and Ss Peter and Paul Kiama students have participated in a regional VEX IQ Robotics Scrimmage in Moss Vale – and both won awards! Congratulations to Ss Peter & Paul for winning the Sportsmanship Award; and St Paul's for winning the Design Award. The competition culminates in the National Finals, which will be held in Adelaide in December. Read more about the day in the Southern Highland News here.

190911 mBot Challenge meanwhile VEX Scrimmage

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