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RoboBarbie in a class of her own!

24 August 2001
For Immediate Use

Imperial College robotics expert, Dr Alex Zivanovic, is leading a group of gifted and talented 11 year olds to great heights of achievement in robot building. Their work, including a RoboBarbie, will be exhibited at Imperial College on Saturday 25 August.

Working in a specially designed Summer School developed for the London Boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster, the 60 pupils from inner city primary and secondary schools have been learning some of the engineering and science skills of robot building and have then put these into practice by designing and building their own robotic devices.

The BBC TechnoGames programme has formed part of the inspiration for this work alongside Dr Zivanovic's creativity in producing such robots as Gums, the toothless shark for TechnoGames, and Bloodbot, a robot for taking blood samples featured on Tomorrow's World.

"I have been amazed at the way these young people have responded to the theory and practice of robot building - they are so enthusiastic it has been difficult to stop them working for the whole day without taking a break," Dr Zivanovic said.

The Summer School is part of a suite of activities for Gifted and Talented young people developed by Imperial College in partnership with Education Consultants, Exscitec.

"The purpose of the Summer School programmes is to expose talented young scientists and engineers to aspects of cutting edge research as a mechanism for encouraging their further study in these shortage areas that are so important to the economic wellbeing of the country" said Melanie Thody, Imperial College Schools Liaison Officer.

Photocall: The exhibition of robots will take place in the Main Dining Hall, Level 1 Sherfield Building, Imperial College, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, on Saturday 25 August at 10am.

For more information please contacts

Abigail Smith, Press Officer, Imperial College - 020 7594 6701

Melanie Thody, Schools Liaison Officer, Imperial College - 020 7594 8042

Alan West, Executive Director, Exscitec Ltd - 07767 804474/ 01730 262927

Notes to Editors:

Government funding has enabled Local Education Authorities to mount special programmes for students designated as Gifted and Talented. The Gifted and Talented tag means that the students fall within the top 10 per cent of the ability range and special provision has to be made to address their talents and potential.

Imperial College has pioneered courses, in partnership with Exscitec, that address the requirement to produce a differentiated set of opportunities for these groups. With courses that represent a clear progression from 11 year olds attending the College on a daily basis to 17 year olds being resident for two weeks during the summer and engaging in research activity. Imperial College has identified that its involvement in such programmes where there is also a focus on inner city schools, will in the long term help to widen participation in higher education activity.

Exscitec is an educational consultancy set up with a specific objective of developing and delivering courses for this special group of young people. Web site

Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine is the largest applied science, technology and medicine university institution in the UK. It is consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions for research quality, with one of the largest annual turnovers (UKP339 million in 1999-2000) and research incomes (UKP176 million in 1999-2000). Web site: