Computer Programming & Robotics

Write the instructions; be in control.

A successful Oliphant Science Awards Computer Programming & Robotics entry:

  • Has accurate science content, and uses scientific principles to get results.
  • Serves a scientific purpose.
  • Is engaging and interesting to use.
  • Is user friendly and almost impossible to crash.

Computers are programmed to help scientists with their work. Programs can:

  • Simulate behaviour using scientific understanding of interactions
    Predicting the effects from a change is often difficult. Scientists might write mathematical equations of the many parts involved. They can then enter a virtual world where they can change some parts and the computer will work out the effect. The computer will also show the results in tables or graphs. Simulations are used instead of very long, difficult or dangerous experiments.
  • Control robots
    Robots use sensors to get information and then respond to a change. For example a robot could sense the temperature in a glasshouse and open or close vents to suit the growing plants. Some robots move around and can sense their surroundings. They might change their behaviour depending on what they sense. Robots could be used in search and rescue situations to locate people and send a signal of where they are.
  • Model or help to demonstrate a scientific idea or principle
    Programs can be written to show scientific concepts, or to model or simulate real life situations that are difficult to measure directly. Also, seeing interactive graphics can often make things easier to understand. A successful entry must do more than just follow a fixed sequence of steps. It should be innovative, and should show how the application could be applied to a practical application, or help solve a problem.

Rules for Computer Programming & Robotics

  • Entries for all year levels may program either a robot or a computer.
  • A group of up to three students can enter a Computer Programming & Robotics entry. (The highest year level in the group will determine the year category of the entry)
  • All entries will be judged on the elements that are the students' own work, and not on the robot itself, or the computer language that has been applied. The judges will place high value on the originality of the entry and the potential wider practical applications that it may address.
  • Robotics entries may use recognised formats such as Lego Mindstorm, eLabtronics, Microbric or similar programs. Robots can be built from a kit, bought ready-made, or individually constructed.
  • Computer Programming entries may use recognised programming languages such as Java, C++, Fortran, or Visual Basic. Your entry must include a written report that includes the following:
    • The aim of the entry, and its scientific purpose and potential applications
    • The type of robot or computer required to run the program
    • Clear instructions on loading or using the entry
    • A hard copy of the program and an explanation of what the sections of the program do
    • Acknowledgment of any external support provided to the entry
    • A bibliography that acknowledges relevant sources of information.

In presenting your Computer Programming & Robotics entry

  • You must package your program and written report in a folder or plastic sleeve.
  • You must securely attach your Identification Label to the front of your written report. This label will only be made available to those students who have made their appointments by the due date (6 August); they will be distributed on Judging Day when students check in upon arrival. 
  • You are required to bring your own entry with you for judging. You will need to make an appointment by Tuesday 6 August to demonstrate your project to the Judges on Saturday 10 August 2019. The judges will interact with you after you demonstrate and discuss its features and uses.

    Appointment times will be available in late June 2019. Once you have made your appointment, details on where you'll need to go and what you can expect will be emailed to you directly. Project labels will only be available for collection on the day of the appointment when you check in upon arrival.
  • Robots will be photographed so you will be able to take your robot home with you after judging. The judges will keep your program and written report until all the judging is completed.
  • It is recommended that you bring your own machine. If you need a special program to drive your entry make sure you include a copy and any instructions with your entry. Those who are unable to bring their own machine, please advise SASTA at the time of making the appointment. A backup copy of your program is strongly recommended. 

Click here to download a PDF copy of the rules for Computer Programming & Robotics.

Click here to download a copy of the judging rubric.

Click here to book a Computer Programming and Robotics Judging Appointment