August 21, 2018

Robotics Olympics opens door for PNG schools

DESPITE winning only one game, a lot has been gained from the experience of meeting like-minded individuals and organisations who support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) from around the world.
Lae Secondary School students Stephanie Wakma and Emerald Pipingan and teacher Martha Aaron believe they can now help young Papua New Guineans build a passion for Stem.
Aaron took the students to Mexico City last week for the International Robotics Olympics.
It was a learning experience and “we sure did learn a lot”, she said.
“We challenged bigger and stronger teams who are actually practising robotics in their countries, unlike us.
“We played seven games and won only one with our alliances.
“Each country was pooled with two other countries in every game to challenge another team of three countries.
“The alliances, therefore, must play well to score points within a two-and-a-half minute game.
“The alliances that scored more wins.
“The next games are with new alliances, and so forth.
“We weren’t so lucky because most of our alliances weren’t strong either. Only the top 48 teams out of 193 countries that participated qualified for the playoff using the same game format.”
Aaron said the Pacific-Oceania teams met and decided to plan ahead by creating a social media group.
“This is so to assist each other in promoting Stem education in our countries through national competitions, so we expose many more children or students to various science and technological programmes,” she said.
“We learned that there are world competitions for children as young as five to nine years old, 9-12, 12-14, and 14-18, which is the one that we participated in.”
Aaron said national competitions would give students more skills and knowledge before they participated in international compeititions.
“Robotics is a fairly new concept for us,” she said. “It was important that we participated to have gained some experience.
“I have also met with mentors from Poland, Canada, Australia and United States who are willing to provide technical support if we get
Stem programmes running back home.
“There’s so much more happening than what we know.”  The National/ONE PNG
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