Willesden Green brothers will represent the UK at the European championships of Lego robotics

PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 February 2016 | UPDATED: 09:52 29 February 2016

Elye, 11, Aaron, 14, Ilana and Rubbish Runners mascot Saul Cuthbertson, from Willesden Green, who are on their way to the First Lego League Open European Championships in Tenerife

Elye, 11, Aaron, 14, Ilana and Rubbish Runners mascot Saul Cuthbertson, from Willesden Green, who are on their way to the First Lego League Open European Championships in Tenerife


A home-schooled family from Willesden Green are representing the UK at the European championships of Lego robotics.

Aaron and Elye Cuthbertson who live in Walm Lane, are part of the Rubbish Runners team coached by their mother Ilana, who are heading to Tenerife in May in the First Lego League (FLL) Open European Championships.

The team, who will be the UK’s only representatives, came second at the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) FLL UK and Ireland Final last week, attended by Nicky Morgan MP, the secretary of state for Education.

They beat dozens of school teams to win the regional round in January and will go to Spain to compete against 80 teams from 50 different countries.

The science and technology challenge, called Trash Trek, is aimed at nine-16 year-olds, to solve real world problems with the help of a robot.

The boys, with fellow home educated teammates Oliver Langton and Kyran Richards, had to design, build and programme a Lego Mindstorms robot and use it to tackle a series of waste-related missions.

Their project involved creating a “stub, swipe and go” bin outside tube stations that incentivises people to stub out their cigarettes correctly rather than on the pavement by entering them into a lottery for free travel.

Aaron, 14, said: “We identified cigarette litter as a problem because it’s a big issue and it costs the government millions of pounds every year. In our prototype you put your cigarette in the bin and it verifies that’s what you’ve put in there. We use image recognition that gets sent to a website. You swipe your oyster first to verify it’s you then every month you’re entered in a lottery to have a chance to win a golden pass, free travel.”

Elye, 11, added: “For the competition we had to programme our robot to make certain missions and you compete against other teams against the clock.

“We had to build the robot from scratch. There were quite a lot of challenges. We had to learn how to use technology like Raspberry Pi.”

Team mascot, Saul, seven, said: “The best thing about all of it is we get to go to Europe!”

Mrs Cuthbertson, coach, said: “I know nothing about robotics, nothing about technology, it was all their work. They had no science or tech teachers, they had to find their own solutions. We didn’t expect to win at all.”

She added: “We’re going to be the only UK team there and we’re a tiny team of home educators with nobody behind us. We’re desperately looking for sponsors, we need local companies, even if it’s to print t-shirts, anyone that can help in anyway.”

Naomi Climer, president of IET, said: “The IET runs competitions like the First Lego League in order to show young people how creative, exciting and rewarding engineering can be.”

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