Oct 31, 2022 News
…says preparation for int’l competitions will now be year-long programme
Kaieteur News – STEMGuyana on Saturday honoured a number of its students from the various learning pods across the country. The event was held at the Marriott Hotel and saw in attendance US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah Ann Lynch and Country Representative of the Inter-American Development Bank, Lorena Salazar.
Salazar congratulated all the students and teachers who participated in the International Youth Robot Competition (IYRC). She said it was not an easy challenge with competitors from more than one thousand (1000) teams representing over twenty countries. According to the IDB representative, the third-place spot secured by STEMGuyana is a significant achievement and “certainly you have made your country, STEMGuyana, your parents and everyone else very proud. Kudos to all the students as well as the teachers and the parents who facilitated the team’s participation.”
Salazar told the students that the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is very important in today’s rapidly changing world, and their growing enthusiasm is commendable. She said STEM education is key in preparing future generations to be successful in their careers regardless of the industries or sectors they choose to pursue. “Beyond the benefit of learning science, technology, engineering, and math, STEM assists in problem-solving and exploratory learning, which can drive success across a variety of tasks and disciplines,” the IDB representative said.
Additionally, she noted that STEM teaches critical thinking skills and instills a passion for innovation. “It is a field of education that equips students to become innovators in an evolving world and we know innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain the economy. Historically, science, technology, and innovation have had immense impact on “solving” some of the daily challenges that people face especially when there are changes in the social and economic environment. It is also beneficial for development of the people, their communities, and their country,” Salazar told the audience, adding that Guyana, for instance, is currently at a critical crossroad in its development pathway. “The oil and gas sector is expected to make Guyana one of the richest countries in the western hemisphere and will generate much needed resources for investment. New jobs and opportunities will be created. These opportunities can also include technology, one of the single most important elements in the success and growth of international trade and job market expansion. Technology allows businesses to share information and conduct trade in less time than the blink of an eye. Technology can save the time it takes to produce a product or deliver a service, contributing to the overall profits of a business.”
The IDB Representative said within this context, technological change can intensify as artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, and cyber-physical systems take the digital revolution to another level. However, while we see these opportunities, there are also challenges and gaps to be filled. As the world over experienced the harsh impact of the COVID-19 pandemic including on the education system, it highlighted the inequalities in access, resources, and digital infrastructure for many communities, including some in Guyana. “That is why at the IDB Group, and led by the IDB Lab, support is offered to initiatives like STEMGuyana Learning Pods Project – Supporting Success in Education for Vulnerable Children. The project supported by the Bank’s innovative laboratory, IDB Lab, will see students in vulnerable communities across Guyana have access to various skill sets via the use of technology in their supplementary learning in Math, English, and Science.
Overall, it is expected that approximately 1000 children in Guyana will benefit from the project over the next three years. The project seeks to support the expansion of the learning pod centers across Guyana, located in schools, churches, community spaces, among others where students from grades one through ten, can access content and technology tools.”
In addition, it offers in-person and online live teaching sessions, three times per week using core public school curriculum for an expanded range of subjects. Since the launch of the project in February this year, it has seen great success. It was this very project that brought us here to celebrate the achievement of the students from ten (10) of the learning pods who recently competed at the International Youth Robot Competition (IYRC) held virtually in South Korea. On behalf of the IDB and IDB Lab, we wish the management and beneficiaries of STEMGuyana much success and we look forward to continuing to support future partnerships with STEMGuyana.
Meanwhile, Director of STEMGuyana, Karen said Guyana’s youths are deserving of the accolades they will receive and “we are also pleased to be able to welcome those of you that have been with us for years now as well as those of you who are new to our organization.”
Abrams said Saturday marked the organisation’s third annual prize giving event, but first in such a swanky location. “We’re moving on up folks…,” she noted. Abrams expressed sincere appreciation to all those who have generously helped STEMGuyana to make the event come together to be a success.
She said STEMGuyana, supported by public and private partners has embarked on a national journey to engage, inspire and educate the next generation of Engineers, Technology entrepreneurs, Scientists, Mathematicians and even creatives, across Guyana–essentially we are touching the lives of thousands of future leaders who will be prepared to contribute meaningfully to the development of Guyana and you are looking at some of them here today. “Imagine a version of Guyana, where every community across the country has access to world class internet connectivity, good roads, running water, electricity, bridges for easy convenience…now imagine a world where the young people in this room are the lead engineers, scientists, designers, and entrepreneurs responsible for designing, building and maintaining this massive expansion. Imagine again, having these facilities in your village enabling you all to build companies that service national, regional and global customers…right from your villages– in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6,…that
is the future for which we are preparing you young people, “ Abrams told the audience.
“We believe that STEM talent can be found in every community across our great nation, among every ethnic group and every social class, and representing every gender and we intend to find that talent and to bring opportunity to that talent and to enrich the lives of OUR young people and to empower them and prepare them to be leaders in their country, in their region and in the world,” Abrams said. She said the 70 young people who were honoured hail from seven regions across Guyana and they worked with their teammates to answer the challenge of building a robot solution to any problem they identified in their community. “It was fascinating to observe the problems they identified and the solutions they developed (some are here for you to observe).
Quite often, I share with parents and club leaders and our young mentors that the world has changed significantly. Every career imaginable is impacted in some way by technology and the Arts. That’s why as we speak, young people from all the regions are honing their technology skills by strengthening their creative and STEM skills–including learning to code, and to design and build robots–these young people are the future business leaders of Guyana,” Abrams noted.
Also at the event, Abrams announced that in 2020 & 2021, STEMGuyana prepared five teams from its (Region 4 and Litchfield) for the IYRC competition. She said in 2022 the organisation added seven teams from its learning pods and three more from its camps taking the total to 15 teams. “We have now identified more than 100 teams of students from all 10 regions who have expressed interest in competing next year so we will be organising a National Robotics Qualifier Competition in March of next year and will select five top teams out of more than 100 entries, to represent Guyana at the 2023 IYRC challenge. This will be a huge achievement for Guyana,” Abrams announced.
She told the audience that in addition to learning to code and build robots, all of their learning pods and STEM clubs will soon have their own websites, which students will learn to update with their own observations and stories “and we envision that within 10 months, we would have trained a cadre of young people, some as young as 8-year-old who will know how to design, build and maintain websites, not to mention the benefit of honing the skills of our future writers, photographers, producers
Abrams also announced that rather than continuing to be a seasonal project, preparation for international competitions like First Global will become a year- long programme. “STEMGuyana intends to raise the funds to purchase robot kits for our technical institutions across the country so that we can run off a qualifier event to also identify the top talent in the country to represent our great nation at international competition. “To our young people, I say that STEMGuyana is looking forward to working with you to prepare you to become world class talents. To our partners and sponsors, I thank those of you who have supported us over the years and I welcome the rest of you to join us in our quest to help inspire the talent for the pipeline of the next generation of our nation’s leaders.” Also speaking at the event was US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah Ann Lynch. She congratulated the children who were awarded for their outstanding performance.
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