The For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) provincial robotics competition unfolded in Carnarvon over the weekend, attracting a record-breaking number of 23 teams from the Northern Cape. The surge in popularity of this sport is garnering significant attention and is hailed as a big win for education in the region.
Dr. Patricia Gouws, the Technology Director at the Unisa Science Engagement Centre and a renowned psychologist of science engineering, emphasized the growing excitement and interest in science and technology among learners in the province over the past five years. Carnarvon, in particular, has made significant strides in the field of robotics, with teams even participating in international competitions.
This year’s FIRST provincial robotics competition adopted the theme “Masterpiece,” encouraging learners to showcase their scientific and artistic talents through the use of innovative technologies. The competition consisted of multiple phases, including a presentation, robot design and programming, and teamwork evaluation. Participants were tasked with strategically selecting missions for their robots to complete within a limited timeframe. Collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving were key factors assessed by the judges.
While the competition has seen exponential growth, Dr. Gouws stressed the need to further promote robotics in schools. Plans are underway to expand the reach of the competition to Sol Plaatje University and encourage participation from younger students, starting from Grades 1 to 3. The aim is to equip learners with digital skills early on, ensuring their preparedness for future challenges.
The undeniable progress showcased by Northern Cape learners in the robotics competition serves as a testament to their abilities and potential on the international stage. Carnarvon High School’s teams have already represented South Africa twice in international competitions held in Uruguay and Morocco.
As for the immediate future, the top six winners from the provincial competition will advance to the national competition, scheduled to take place in December at the prestigious Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Johannesburg. Furthermore, the Southern Africa Open Championships in 2025 will be hosted in South Africa, providing an excellent opportunity for teams from the Northern Cape to shine on their home turf.
The robotics competitions in the Northern Cape not only encourage educational growth and innovation but also instill confidence and courage in participating students. By recognizing each team member’s contribution with a participation medal, the competition fosters an environment of support and acknowledgment.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
1. What is the FIRST provincial robotics competition?
The FIRST provincial robotics competition is an annual event that brings together teams from various regions to showcase their skills in science, technology, and robotics.
2. What is the significance of robotics competitions for education?
Robotics competitions promote hands-on learning, problem-solving, teamwork, and critical thinking skills among students. They serve as a platform for students to apply their knowledge in a practical and competitive setting.
3. How are winners selected in the competition?
Winners are determined based on the performance of their robots in completing assigned missions, the quality of their presentations, and their ability to work effectively as a team.
4. How is robotics being promoted in schools?
Efforts are being made to introduce robotics at an early age, with plans to involve students as young as Grades 1, 2, and 3. By familiarizing students with robotics and coding concepts early on, the aim is to develop their digital skills and prepare them for the future.
– Unisa Science Engagement Centre (URL: unisa.ac.za)