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STEM through football – Aston Villa scores a winner with footballing robots

Aston Villa Foundation

Teachers from across Birmingham enjoyed a hands-on taste of one of the Millennium Point Trust’s small grants projects, when they attended Aston Villa Foundation’s (@AVFCFoundation) recent STEM Through Football event, showcasing its work with schools in the city.

The foundation’s STEM Stars project, funded through the Millennium Point Trust Small Grants programme, is a new programme in six schools, all within a three-mile radius of Villa Park. The schools targeted in the STEM Stars project have a high percentage of BAME and high levels of income deprivation (top 3% nationally) and education deprivation (top 8%). 

The funding has been used to purchase a Sphero Bolt package that uses football to engage young people in coding.

Teachers at the event, hosted by Millennium Point, enjoyed an interactive experience with the ‘Bolts’, steering and programming the Sphero bots through a number of activities on special football pitch mats.

Project lead Alex Owens, Schools Coordinator at Aston Villa Foundation, commented:

“The feedback from teachers today has been fantastic; it’s great to see the impact we can create within the schools; STEM is adding onto our project work where we are already delivering PE, active maths and PSHE, but it also means we can reach out to more schools.”

Using code, the robots can perform specific functions – such as motion and direction, colour and light, and sensor-controlled reactions, allowing students to be creative with their programs. Teachers and students can use the robots for activities such as navigating a maze, painting, mimicking the Solar System, swimming across water – and even recreating Villa goals from the recent Premier League season.

CEO of Millennium Point, Abigail Vlahakis, comments:

“It was a delight seeing the reaction of teachers to STEM through Football. Alex and the team at Aston Villa Foundation have demonstrated how creative and engaging STEM education can be by combining programming with the beautiful game. The project itself is testament to the impact a grant from the Millennium Point Charitable Trust can have on STEM education in the region.”

Millennium Point is a landmark public building and multi-award-winning venue in the eastside of Birmingham City Centre. Profits from its commercial activity go towards the Millennium Point Charitable Trust who have contributed over £26m to STEM education in the region.

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