Celebrating students!

21 07 2019

We had a first ever FRC awards ceremony here in Uganda!!!

Let us explain…

Several of our students have over there the last two years built and programmed a full FRC bot. A group in Canada disassembled a full competition robot, added a bunch of extra parts and it was packed into hockey bags & carried over to Uganda by volunteers. (May of 2017)

With some on site teaching from us and help/mentorship from our contacts overseas combined with their own research, the students reimagined and reassembled the machine into a whole new creation at the Hackers for Charity Hackerspace in Jinja. They learned Java and managed to program the robot to operate both autonomously and under teleoperated control. They even moved on to learning how to setup and include pneumatics as well as some unique parts and mechanisms they devised out of locally available and recycled materials. It has being a highly creative endeavor! The design thinking and engineering skills that the students have been able to develop through this process are incredible, not to mention all of the problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration! (go STEM!)

However, due to the nature of FRC with the massive costs involved as well as the extraordinary distance they would have to travel to get to an official competition the students have never been able to take part. But they continue to watch their friends online a team from St. Thomas Ontario, Canada and cheer them on by watching the live stream each year. (thank you Twitch!) The students on both the teams send messages back and forth and the J-Robotics team here stay up to date and have cheered this team along through their competitions for the last couple years. As a result, these kids have got to know each other and through the common connection of robots to become friends.

BUT this year our students did a lot more than watch!! After seeing the machine that was being designed for this year’s event by Renaissance Robotics, they were able to become a real part of the competition. Since the kids had already developed hands-on experience building FRC robots and coding in Java, the Jinja team was able to help write/debug robot code as long distance members of the Renaissance Robotics! (hooray for GitHub!) They even created and coded an autonomous mode that could be used in the competition.

Together, the team was highly successful and won multiple awards including the top awards at some of their events for such achievements as their overseas collaborations and support with Just Cause STEM projects. They even made it to the FRC Ontario Provincial Championships and the World Championship in Detroit, USA!

Yesterday evening J-Robotics and Renaissance Robotics met once again via a video call to share their STEM projects and check out their latest and greatest. They Canadians also introduced and demonstrated a competition that is now as of 2019 officially happening in Uganda callef FIRST Lego League. We have the equipment for this so the kids are really, really excited at the prospect of finally having the chance to be part of an official global competition! It has been a long time coming. We just need to figure out how to get them registered and to get their practice materials. (A whole other ongoing debacle we don’t want to get into!) (Cross your fingers….a lot)

So, to bring this saga full circle, the highlight of this whole evening, was the FRC Awards Ceremony! The Canadian students had the chance to express their thanks and congratulations to the Ugandan students who contributed and became their teammates this year! We had brought over the awards on this teams behalf and our students were SO surprised at what was happening, they had no idea this was coming! They received the medals they helped win and their own Championship Event shirts! We even took a “team photo” of sorts (see above!)

It was a pretty special moment to get to see the ongoing collaboration and partnership between these two groups culminate with such a triumph! This whole experience reinforced our belief in the potential of technology to unite people and break down barriers for common goals. These programs matter! Thank you to all of the MANY people & groups who believe that too for making this possible!

#ProgressByLearning #shareSTEM #LearningForAll #EqualAccess


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