Jul 23, 2016 News
To harness the power of information technology, the next generation must take a bold step towards equipping themselves with the skills needed to do so.
This is the notion expressed by United States-based Guyanese, Karen Abrams, who is spearheading Guyana’s first robotics training camp which opened at St. Rose’s High School on Thursday.
Abrams explained that the Camp is a method of introducing young people to computer programming in a fun and interesting way.
“There are no special skills required to do this really. You just have to be bold enough to want to learn about technology.”
On the first day, the class attracted some 30 students between 10 years and 14 years old. Coordinators had initially planned for 18 youths but owing to the demand, the classes have increased to almost twice that size. When Kaieteur News visited the camp, some of the students had already constructed their first robots and were watching in awe as they moved.
Abrams, her husband Leon Christian, and their four children, the creators of K12Youthcode, a national virtual coding league for k-12 students, homeschoolers, clubs and national organizations based in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, are the pioneers behind the project.
And this project is a collaborative effort between First Lady Sandra Granger, the Ministry of Education’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Department.
According to Adams, the Robotic Camp instructors are applying the simple techniques used in Mathematics, Engineering and Programming “from a basic level to harness world class potential of Guyana’s youth”. At the end of the programme, a championship tournament, exhibition and prize giving ceremony is slated to be held.
“We are teaching them how to solve problems, respond to challenges, be creative and work together,” she added.
Stressing the importance of the techniques, Abrams noted that the demand for innovative technology has been on the rise globally.
“It is important for the future of Guyana, especially with the introduction of E-governance. The Guyana we see today will not be the same Guyana in the next 10 or 20 years. Coding (programming) technology is already literally everywhere; in every sector, the gold mining, agriculture and oil industry. What we are doing here, is helping to prepare Guyana’s youth for the future,” the coordinator added.
According to Abrams, the idea was derived from conversations she had with two of her children, Ima and Asha, about offering a robotics programming course in Guyana.
In the US last year, the mother of four related the idea to Mrs. Granger, who in turn expressed her enthusiasm at having the project materialise.
Hence, the Christians will be in Guyana for the next few weeks, instructing groups of young people on how to use Lego Mindstorms technology to construct robots. And given their keen interest for enriching Guyana’s youth with skills needed for an effective future in the area of information technology, the team‘s efforts will not stop there. K12Youthcode has established several camps towards training the various IT techniques, particularly computer programming and coding.
According to information obtained from K12YouthCode website, the team has spearheaded training for 15 leaders representing churches, high schools, and community groups in robot building, programming and technology use in the world.
The camps will be set up in Buxton, Lusignan, and several other communities across the country.
K12YouthCode hopes to inspire the creation of competitive robotics clubs throughout all regions of Guyana.
“Our goal is to teach robot building and programming, and to inspire an interest in ‘STEM’ careers in young people.”
“We envision all clubs continuing to recruit and train the most dedicated students who will in turn propel technology development throughout Guyana. We’d also like to develop the talent for the first robotics team to represent Guyana in the wildly popular international First Lego League,” the team said.
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