PE’s Nerds of Steel to compete in Houston

2018-03-07 06:02
The four members of The Nerds of Steel are, from left, Connor Mcleod and KT and Brad Spies and in front is Daniel Manlee.                     Photo:SUPPLIED

The four members of The Nerds of Steel are, from left, Connor Mcleod and KT and Brad Spies and in front is Daniel Manlee. Photo:SUPPLIED

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A GROUP of inspired learners from DF Malherbe High School formed a For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Lego League (FLL) robotics team, called The Nerds of Steel in 2016 and, through hard work and tenacity, they won the National South African FLL championships.

Every year, FLL hosts a three-part challenge that is based on a real-world scientific topic.

FLL robotics teams participate in the challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a playing field before developing a solution to the problem they have identified, all guided by the FLL core values.

The aim of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programmes that build science, engineering and technology skills, inspire innovation and foster well-rounded life capabilities.

The Nerds of Steel team is made up of Brad and KT Spies, Daniel Manlee, Connor Mcleod and coach Magnus Viljoen, who is also a science teacher at DF Malherbe.

“Competing against equally talented and like-minded learners from across South Africa, our team was awarded top honours and as a result, are now eligible for the international competition,” said Dawn Spies, Brad and KT’s mother.

This year’s competitors were tasked with finding a solution for how the world can manage its diminishing water resources better.

The Nerds of Steel designed water canals from interlocking bricks that require no water in the manufacturing process.

The bricks are made by collecting pollution, which is then heated and bonded to form superstrong bricks.

The more bricks that are produced, the more water canals are added to the infrastructure.

Approximately 33 000 teams from 90 different countries are competing in about 1 400 FLL qualifying and championship tournaments around the globe. The Nerds of Steel progressed to the international stage after winning the regional tournament in Port Elizabeth and the national tournament in Johannesburg.

Now, they will be travelling to Houston, Texas, to compete against the top teams from other countries from April 18 to April 21.

“Getting the team to this point has taken a lot of hard work and sleepless nights, but with the guidance of their coach and support of parents and DF Malherbe High School, they have become SA champions,” Dawn said.

“The journey to Houston requires hours of work in programming, mechanical design and project development.

“The team’s biggest challenge is financial support,” she added.

The Nerds of Steel are counting on their community to get them to the international competition in Houston next month.

Anyone willing to assist them on their journey can contact DF Malherbe High School on 041 581 3145 or


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