Build a robot: National drawing and story competitions for children now open

2022 ‘Once Upon A robot’ writing competition and ‘Draw A Robot’ design challenge launch today from the ESPRC UK Robotics and Autonomous System (UK-RAS) Network

The ESPRC UK Robotics and Autonomous System (UK-RAS) Network has officially launched their 2022 competition to inspire primary schoolchildren to get creative with robots. 

The competition involves creating robot designs, either drawn or written, and invites key stage 1 and 2 students from five to 11 years old to share their works with an expert panel of top robotics researchers and special guests from the creative and literary worlds. 

The annual competition is now returning for its third successive year after proving highly popular nationwide. 

Entrants can submit their applications here. Both competitions are open for entry now and will close for submissions on 24 April 2022. The winners will be announced at a special virtual award ceremony due to be held on June 21st 2022. 

It’s once again our great pleasure to be launching these fantastic competitions, which have become a firm favourite in the calendar of many primary schools, and which offer a really unique opportunity to engage children creatively in the world of robotics and automation. We’re hugely looking forward to seeing what ideas our next generation of authors and designers come up with, and to the enjoyable and inspiring task of judging all the many superb entries as they roll in – Robert Richardson EPSRC UK-RAS Network Chair 

‘Draw A Robot’

For the ‘Draw A Robot’ competition, children aged five to seven have the chance to draw a robot that they would like to see in the future.  

The drawing can involve pencils paints, or even natural materials – whatever takes the artist’s fancy. The drawing can also be labelled or accompanied with a short design spec to allow explanations of functions or gadgets. 

‘Once Upon A Robot’

For the ‘Once Upon A Robot’ competition, children aged seven to 11 are encouraged to write a creative short story featuring robots, with 800 words to work their tales into. 

The writing competition will be judged this year by writer Radiya Hafiza, whose debut novel – the magical, empowering story Rumaysa: A Fairytale – was published in 2021 to wide acclaim. 

The drawing competition will be judged by Irish author and illustrator Chris Haughton, whose bold and brilliant books for children include A BIT LOST, OH NO GEORGE! and SHH! WE HAVE A PLAN.

This year’s exclusive prize packages include: 

  • ‘Draw A Robot’ competition winner
    • Thames & Kosmos coding and robotics kit – contributed by sponsoring partner the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). 
    • A tour of the AMRC’s Factory 2050 in Sheffield, the UK’s first state-of-the-art factory dedicated to reconfigurable digitally assisted assembly. 
    • Bespoke animation of the winning drawing by top animator Jody Clarke. 
    • Copy of the book Maybe…, signed by competition judge Chris Haughton. 
  • ‘Draw A Robot’ competition runner-up
    • 4M green science solar hybrid power aqua robot – contributed by sponsoring partner the Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets (ORCA) hub.
    • Copy of the book Maybe…, signed by competition judge Chris Haughton. 
  • ‘Once Upon A Robot competition winner 
    • MakeBlock codey rocky educational coding robot – contributed by sponsoring partner Pipebots. 
    • A tour of Heriot-Watt University’s National Robotarium in Edinburgh, a world-leading centre for robotics and artificial intelligence. 
    • Printed copy of the winning story with bespoke illustrations by illustrator and science communicator Hana Ayoob. 
    • A copy of Rumaysa: A Fairytale, signed by competition judge Radiya Hafiza. 
  • ‘Once Upon A Robot’ competition runner-up 
    • 4M solar robot – contributed by sponsoring partner, The National Robotarium. 
    • A copy of Rumaysa: A Fairytale, signed by competition judge Radiya Hafiza. 

The two creative competitions for young children were first launched in 2020 for UK Robotics Week, now the UK Festival of Robotics – an annual 7-day celebration of robotics and intelligent systems held at the end of June. 

This annual celebration is hosted by the EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network, which provides academic leadership in robotics and coordinates activities at over 30 partner universities across the UK.


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