On Saturday morning we hosted the first WRO Robotics (World Robotics In-house Olympiad) Competition this year. A lot of learners from different schools around the neighbourhood and friends of the participants also attended the competition to root for their favourite teams.
The three Robotics groups came together on Saturday and worked in groups of 4-7 to make their robots fulfil certain tasks. For example, figuring out how to push a ball off a ramp at a specific angle and strength or how to push cubes into posing as containers into the Ships printed on the competition mat. During the tasks, the participants work on their own and without the help of their tutors. It was unbelievably impressive to see how well they operated their robots and how they corrected their programming mistakes on their own when needed. At the end of the competition, there was lunch for everybody attending.
The winner of this last competition was the group from Cewu Primary School. The 7th graders Liyabona Balani (12), Avethandwa Adam (13), Chuma Adam (13), Mahle Mvalo (13), Meleza Zweni (13), Lindokuhle Adam (14) and Olwethu Tesana (13) successfully programmed their robots to fulfil all given tasks. After their victory, they told me how anxious and nervous they were before the competition n, even though they all had multiple robotics lessons together with their tutor before. This tension was present throughout the competition, particularly during the last part of it, when the learners had to program the robot to push a ball 1.5 meters away from a ramp without pushing the ramp off the mat. The winning Cewu primary school group found that this was the most difficult task.
The winners also told me that they enjoy learning about coding because it helps them in mathematics. This is because when coding the robot you have to think through the angles and numbers just as in a mathematics class. It also teaches them to solve problems calmly and patiently, since this is the only way to solve issues within a program. Some of them are also interested in maybe choosing education and job paths connected to technology, but when I asked them what their dream job was, they all simultaneously said: soccer player!