News release

Date: 16th September 2020

BACK TO SCHOOL CHALLENGE: CAN YOUR CLASS MASTER MARS? School Robot Competition 2020 Invites Team Entries

Competition to design a space explorer robot open to school groups aged 8-14 years, deadline specially extended until 23 October 2020

London, United Kingdom, 16th September 2020–The EPSRC UK-RAS Network, organiser of the annual UK Robotics Week celebration, is today inviting school groups aged 8-14 years to submit their unique designs for a robot that can explore exciting space terrains. The School Robot Competition 2020 is open for entries now at The deadline has been specially extended this year to Friday 23rd October 2020, to ensure that Year 4 to Year 9 classes returning to school for the first time following the pandemic lockdown can enjoy the opportunity to take part.

The School Robot Competition – part of the EPSRC UK Robotics & Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network’s annual UK Robotics Week programme – invites school groups to design a space explorer robot in teams of 3–5 students. The network has partnered with the online educational publisher Twinkl to host the competition, which invites groups to create a virtual robot that can move across the challenging surface of Mars and complete a range of tasks. Classes can enter using the free Twinkl Robotics augmented reality app (available for download on the competition web page or from the Apple App Store and Google Play), or groups can design, test, and submit their robot online. The unique educational game uses the latest augmented reality (AR) technology to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning objectives, making use of programmable features. The competition is fully aligned to the STEM English national curriculum and is aimed at helping school children to boost their team-building, science and coding skills while learning about the exciting and fascinating world of robotics.

The superb prize package on offer for the overall winner includes a MiRo-E Robot (provided by Consequential Robotics) and a 3D-printed model of their design (contributed by the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre). Additional Judge’s Choice prizes include:

A MakeBlock mBot Ranger 3-in-1 for each member of the team (contributed by Pipebots)
A Littlebits Space Rover Inventor Kit for each member of the team (contributed by Brains-on-Board)
Lego Mindstorms robotics kit and software for your class (contributed by FAIR-SPACE)
A Robotics and AI masterclass and tour of 1000sm Extreme Robotics Lab for your class, plus 2 EV3 Robot Systems (contributed by the National Centre for Nuclear Robotics)
A Lego EV3 education kit and mat with challenges from this year’s Lego League competition (contributed by the Robotics and AI in Nuclear Hub)

Professor Robert Richardson, Chair of the EPSRC UK-RAS Network said: "Following the challenges all school communities have faced over the past few months with adapting to home and remote learning during the lockdown, we were really keen to extend the deadline for this year’s School Robot Competition to give as many students as possible the opportunity to engage with this fantastic activity. The breadth and sheer creativity of the ideas students generate for this competition is always hugely inspiring, and we’re very much looking forward to seeing what innovative designs our entrants come up with for this year’s space-themed task.”

Jonathan Seaton, Co-founder and CEO of Twinkl, said: “We hope that teachers and pupils will enjoy putting their robots together and testing them out on the virtual landscape of Mars! The activity is a great way for children to bring together all elements of STEM to overcome challenges and find solutions, whilst engaging with the exciting world of robotics. We look forward to seeing the robots that are created this year.”

The UK Robotics Week is organised annually by the EPSRC UK-RAS Network, established in 2015 with the aim of bringing together academic centres of excellence, industry, government funding bodies and charities, to strategically grow the UK-RAS research base, and to act as a portal to interface with industry and deliver technological advances for translational impact.

For more information about UK Robotics Week, please visit:

Ends –

About the ESPRC UK-RAS Network (

The EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network) provides academic leadership and expands collaboration with industry while integrating and coordinating activities at EPSRC funded RAS capital facilities, Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) and partner universities. Since its foundation, the UK-RAS Network has helped transform the UK-RAS research landscape, bringing cohesion to the research base, enhancing capital facilities across the country, supporting education programmes and public engagement activities at all levels.


Nicky Denovan


Email: nicky[at]evokedset[dot]com

Mobile: +44 (0)118 3282782

About Twinkl:

Twinkl was founded in 2010 in Sheffield by husband and wife Jonathan and Susie Seaton, with a mission ‘to help those who teach’.

The company provides high quality, online learning materials and services, which are all teacher-created and checked.

Twinkl offers over 655,000 resources, with new content added daily. This ranges from schemes of work and assessments to augmented reality games and much more.

The company launched its business accelerator, TwinklHive, at the end of last year, which helps emerging EdTech start-ups break into and succeed within the sector.

Twinkl is used and trusted by schools and educators in over 200 countries and regions, including primary and secondary school teachers, nursery workers and parents.

The company now has over 640 team members based across the world and at its offices in Sheffield and Australia.

More information can be found at or please contact or call 0114 360 0225

Our story:

The idea for Twinkl came to Jonathan and Susie Seaton when Susie was working as an Early Years teacher and couldn’t find the materials she needed for her lessons online. As a result, Susie was working evenings and weekends to make resources from scratch.

Speaking to colleagues and friends, the couple found that Susie was not alone in her situation. So, to help other teachers, they began creating and publishing educational resources online from their spare bedroom. 

The business grew quickly and organically as educators embraced the high-quality materials. The team grew quickly too, with current and former teachers, as well as experts in content and design soon joining Jonathan and Susie in their mission 'to help those who teach.'

Jonathan and Susie are delighted that Twinkl is now taking this mission across the world, returning time and energy to educators that is better spent in the classroom with their pupils or on themselves at home.

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