A GINA Feature, August 12, 2016
Kristian Singh plans to purchase a robot kit, make a robot, train it and sell it.
Twelve-year-old Kristian, recently completed a three-week programme in robotics at the Lusignan STEM Camp. He believes that the programme will benefit him in his intended career as an engineer since it taught him how to programme and fix a robot.
Kristian lives at Lusignan and is one of 140 children who participated in the robotics programme. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) camp recently conducted in Buxton and Lusignan among other schools and organisations, integrated the study of, and training in robotics.
The industrial age of machinery was transformed when automation combined mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering into the research and development of robotics technology. Practically everything automated today, relies upon a robot; space exploration, mining, car and computer assembly and almost every other mass assembly line.
What is STEM?
Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is a series of functional areas that prepare students for advancement in technology.
Coordinator of the STEM camp, Karen Abrams said that STEM will allow Guyanese to take advantage of advancements in technology and prepare for the future. “If Guyana is to compete in providing services for the world, it would be competing with people who are skilled at using robots. Therefore, it is vital for Guyana to understand the importance of technological changes and to be updated with them especially since robots enable society to do things in a repeated way and for an extensive period of time,” Abrams explained.
Aftab Rahaman is a thirteen-year-old boy who resides with his family at Bourda, Georgetown. Rahaman said the programme was very different and very new while at the same time fun and interesting. He said he learnt a lot and hopes the team returns very soon. He said he learnt to build and programme robots, something he believes will be beneficial for his career in electrical engineering.
How STEM got here?
After the daughters of Karen Abrams, Ima and Asha Christian expressed their interest in a technology camp in Guyana, Abrams said she shared the idea with First Lady Sandra Granger during her 2015 trip to Georgia, USA. The First Lady endorsed the idea.
Speaking at a graduation exercise held for the students, the First Lady said she saw in the programme, all the possibilities of technology and interesting children in new ways. The First Lady believes that Guyana can only progress if young people are educated in STEM, “At the same time they have to be rounded individuals… I believe that our culture has to survive as well and cultural expression is also important hence, I believe you also have to be literate,” she said.
Fifteen-year-old Chandra Goberdhan from Lusignan, said that the programme was good and helped her to learn to a lot about technology. She said it will benefit her CXC subjects and will assist in her career of becoming a children’s doctor.
Why the use of Robotics in STEM?
Robots bring improvements to factories and heavy, labour intensive jobs since they can be programmed to repeat tasks without getting tired or going on vacation.
Naomi Neptune said the programme was encouraging and inspirational especially since she enjoys learning new things. She said making the robots was very interesting and it will help with her hobby of building things and her career of becoming an architect.
Who made it possible?
The STEM programme was carried out by Abrams’ three children; Ima, Asha and Caleb Christian, along with volunteers. The camp had an expectation of 80 students. However, 140 students from Georgetown, Buxton/Friendship and Lusignan-Good Hope were able to benefit. At the same time, 20 volunteers were also trained to monitor the students.
Volunteer, Kavya Sony, who has worked with children on robotics in Canada, said the programme has been helping the children, giving them a new experience and introducing them to new technology. Her brother, David Sony, said that the programme has been fun and most of the children took initiatives on their own. He said it is amazing how the children quickly learnt the steps.
At the end of the training, the children graduated and those who did well received a Certificate of Achievement issued by STEM.
Ima Christian came up with the curriculum based on information from the classes she did and her own knowledge. Christian explained that for the first two days of the camp the children learned the basics of robot building and programing to familiarise them with the different robot parts. Then, on the third day, the children worked with the programme’s interface and when they were comfortable they familiarised themselves with the robot’s censors.
Will STEM Continue?
Fifty organisations interested in creating STEM clubs were trained and will receive robots to incorporate in their programmes. “So we have quite a few organisations whether they are churches or government organisations or private, we want to have folks who are interested so they can continue to keep the curriculum going every Saturday for the students,” Abrams said.
Efforts will be made to continue the training in an effort to further develop the skills of Guyanese youths so; will the next Tony or Toni Stark please stand up?