A News story by Ellena Schuster-Farrell 16 April 2018

As part of an ongoing partnership with City in the Community, pupils at E-ACT Blackley Academy were recently given the opportunity to build and program their very own robots for the launch of an exciting new STEM initiative.

City in the Community, a foundation run by Manchester City FC, and leading AI and robotics company UBTECH have come together to teach children from 45 Manchester schools how to code, with lucky Year 5 pupils at Blackley chosen as the first to take part.

In March, Blackley pupils worked in groups to build their own JIMU robots, impressing their teachers and visitors from City in the Community with their engineering skills. They then watched a video of Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero scoring a goal and celebrating, successfully programming their robots to do the same!

While pupils certainly had lots of fun with their new robot classmates, teacher Elizabeth Lilley points out that the session was also a fantastic learning experience.

“They’ve taken a lot away from it in terms of engineering skills and putting the robot together. It’s been a really nice project which I hope to take further.”

Unique learning experiences

This isn’t the first time that Blackley pupils have been part of an exciting programme promoting STEM. Earlier this year, the academy inspired children all over the country to discover their inner scientist after starring in the BBC’s hugely popular Terrific Scientific. According to Academy Operations Lead Bernadette Mather, these unique learning experiences are important for pupils.

“The experience and knowledge that children can gain from days like these is priceless. We were so pleased with the excitement around Terrific Scientific and the recent coding lesson – the focus and hard work from our pupils is always phenomenal.”

 A strong partnership with City in the Community

Blackley pupils have enjoyed many exciting experiences through the academy’s strong partnership with City in the Community. Classes have been treated to stadium tours and footballing masterclasses, while a few lucky pupils have even had the chance to be ball boys and ball girls at the Etihad Stadium as a reward for doing well at the academy. The foundation has also donated football equipment and kit to the academy for pupils and the local community.

The benefits of the partnership stretch far beyond the world of football. At the academy, younger pupils have been able to develop their coordination, stability and object control through the CityPlay programme, while parents and pupils have learned all about healthy eating through family cookery classes led by Manchester City chefs.

Last year, pupils even had the chance to meet City players Kelechi Iheanacho, John Stones and Manchester City Women’s Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze and Jill Scott as part of a project to promote literacy and confidence in reading. With so many fantastic activities available to pupils, it’s no surprise that Bernadette is thrilled with the partnership.

“We have such a good relationship with City in the Community and the children benefit immensely from it. There are great opportunities right across the curriculum.”

You can find out more about E-ACT Blackley Academy’s work with the foundation, and watch the academy’s budding engineers build their robots, on the Manchester City website.