A school for under-resourced communities produces robot stars

A school for under-resourced communities produces robot stars

Two teams of robotics from Cape Town School for Children from under-resourced communities have won the World Robot Olympiad (WRO) finals in South Africa.

89 teams and 227 students competed in the regional WRO Western Cape competition in Cape Town, hosted by the South African non-profit Christel House School, based in the suburb of Ottery.

Christel House offers tuition-free scholarships to students from some of the under-resourced communities in Cape Town and helps transform their lives through a character-based and career-focused educational model. Technology forms the cornerstone of the school’s curriculum, with programs like coding and robotics growing from strength to strength each year.

Two teams from the school went through to the national finals in Gauteng, with the winners from each category getting the chance to represent South Africa at the WRO international event in Dortmund, Germany, in November 2022.

First held in 2004, the World Robotics Olympiad has been held in 90 countries and brings together young people from around the world to develop their creative and problem-solving skills through challenging educational robotics competitions.

The official WRO theme for 2022 is “My Robot My Friend” and focuses on how the combination of robotics and artificial intelligence can improve human-human interaction by making it safer and easier to use. Competition teams assign their bot teams to perform certain tasks while navigating pre-set courses. The team that completes the course the fastest and most accurate scores the highest score. Teams across different skill levels participate in several categories. This year, the Robo Sports category included doubles tennis for the first time.

Crystal House and the WRO Western Cape Committee also hosted a special workshop on robotics, which introduced 50 students from under-resourced regions to the world of robotics and cryptography. The workshop was facilitated with the help of the WRO Olympiad winning teams, who guided them in coding and building their robots for the first time.

Robotics, coding and other ICT programs form a major part of Christel House SA’s intervention to prepare students for the world of work and ensure that they find gainful employment. In line with global technology trends, the school acknowledges that coding will become a basic literacy requirement in the digital age and that understanding the fundamentals of technology will be essential to securing a job in the future.

Funding for robotics equipment, training fees and competition remains a major barrier for many underserved schools across South Africa. Backed by Dell Technologies in South Africa, Christel House SA is committed to expanding the impact of its programs to help more young people bridge the digital divide.

Doug Woolley, General Manager, Dell Technologies South Africa, says: “Dell is a leader in innovation in areas such as artificial intelligence, and we believe Christel House’s commitment to equipping South African youth with the skills most in demand in the world today plays an important role in that. in the future of our country.”

Cedric Esterhuizen, Vice President of WRO Western Cape and Head of Robotics at Christel House says: “Through this outreach program, we were able to expose students to robots that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to. It was great to see all the interaction and smiles on the students’ faces.”

“Robots provide an opportunity to follow a career path students have not thought of before and allow them to contribute to an ever-changing technological world.”

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