Career & Education

We Love Robotics Too!

Calabar wins first Red Spring Robotics Challenge, signals appetite for more than track & field

BY FALON FOLKES
Career & Education reporter
folkesf@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 15, 2018



In a move that school administr ators say will debunk the perception that it can only excel at track and field, Calabar High School is taking steps to have its robotics programme extended into a year-long undertaking.

Since its introduction into the curriculum almost two years ago, the programme has only been offered per term, on a rotational basis to students in grades seven and eight. It is also offered as an extra-curricular activity via a club.

In spite of the limited contact time, the school says the programme has been attracting increased attention, hence the decision to expand. Part of that thrust is the Red Spring robotics Challenge which the robotics club hosted on the school grounds on Friday.

“We cannot be allowed to be left behind,” a coordinator of the competition and teacher of geography, Danielle-Claire Walters, told the Jamaica Observer.

“We want to break the stigma that Calabar is only interested in track and field and we're only excelling in track and field. So we're trying new things so that we can actually get our young men involved,” she said.

According to Walters, the club members are enthusiastic about its activities, and the challenge is a way to recruit more students for the extra-curricular pastime.

“The students actually like the idea that they are being hands-on and being practical. It's not the regular chalk and talk that they're used to. We're trying to break students out of this swatting mentality that exists within the education system, and this is the perfect way that we're doing it. So, we're starting off with the robotics and as best as possible we're going to be doing it for other subjects,” she told Career & Education.

The Red Spring Robotics Challenge saw students from Immaculate Conception, Calabar, the Queens' and Merl Grove high schools competing in mixed groups. The groups were charged to develop a software to operate robots.

Founder of Halls of Learning, Marvin Hall, who was a judge at the event, explained what was expected once the programming of the robots was complete.

“There are three objects on the game board and the robot has to move them from one location to another location. For each token that is on the board, they will get a certain number of points to move it from where it is to where it should be. The aim is to do it in the shortest time. The challenge is really applying your programming skills and your math skills, your precision and accuracy, and understanding how to programme the robot so it's accurate,” he said.

In the end, the hosts of the event, Calabar High School, came out as the winner of the competition.

“I know me and my team worked very hard and we executed as we should, and that's why we got the victory,” Kymani Francis, a member of the winning team told Career & Education.

“We have a team that consists of very strong members who do computer science and maths. We had all the skills we needed to adequately do this. It was fun for the most part... but I saw some improvements that we have to make and maybe next time we have a competition we'll smake it.”

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