Zimbabwean children are coding and building robots with the best of them. At Impact Hub Harare, we concur with the old adage “Age ain’t nothing but a number” especially when it comes to making a positive impact in the world. From the youngest of children, to the oldest gogo (grandmother), we have the ability to solve the issues that face our community through innovation. One of the initiatives we support is a robotics club in order to teach children about STEM and collaboration.
2017 was the first year a team of Zimbabwean students competed internationally in the First Global Robotics Challenge–a global competition uniting youth from across the world to promote STEM. First Global is the “olympics” of robotics which is why we decided it was important for Zimbabwean children from across backgrounds, to participate.
Last year’s challenge saw the team using skills in Artificial Intelligence to develop a high tech, state of the art robot that filtered out contaminated molecules (represented by orange balls) in drinking water. This machine resonated well with the FIRST Global Robotics Challenge theme for 2017, “clean water”. Zimbabwe came an impressive 17 out of 163 competing nations. What a feat for their very first challenge!
Their journey to this year’s FIRST Global Challenge is not without difficulty. We need the support of the public to ensure the team’s participation. Impact Hub Harare is the official support partner for the Zimbabwe Robotics Team and representative of First Global in Zimbabwe. Applications were invited from interested youth from January, followed by one-on-one interview sessions conducted by the selection committee to come up with the best team which can represent Zimbabwe in the challenge. The children are passionate and determined to grasp this field of knowledge to better their lives and those of others. Some of these kids had never touched a robot let alone build one before and so this opportunity is not only a great learning platform but is good for their psychological well-being and that of every Zimbabwean youth who at their best never imagined at tech revolution start in their country.
They have since the beginning of May embarked on coding and engineering training to build their model robot for this year’s challenge themed “Energy Impact”, meeting up even on weekends to brainstorm, learn and construct their masterpiece.
The team still needs funding for their transportation, accommodation and robotics training to make their dream a reality and we are appealing to the public to help make this unique opportunity attainable for these future leaders in technology.
It is indisputable that Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), is at the core of our lives. We need to foster a country where those who apply this knowledge in solving societal problems are given a platform to do so. We cannot afford to make Zimbabwe an exception in the fourth industrial revolution. Let’s foster this knowledge, support this cause and walk with the Zimbabwe Robotics Team in their journey to the FIRST Global Robotics Challenge!