Good month for Zimbabwe education

The Herald

In North America, the Zimbabwean flag also flew high.

A team of five high school students, namely Bennedictus Chingiodza (St George’s), Tamuda Chimhanda (St Ignatius), Danai Hakata (Tynwald High School), Gabriel Matemba (Harare High) and Letticia Vanganayi (Harare High) went to the FIRST Global Robotics Challenge in Mexico.

Also known as the “Olympics” of Robotics, the competition is an annual robotics challenge where high school students converge to compete and test their acumen against global peers.

The team which was representing Zimbabwe won five out of eight games and came fifth in Africa. Tadzoka Pswarayi who travelled with the Zimbabwean team as its manager said Zimbabwe left a mark to be remembered at the global stage.

“Teams were placed into alliances and each alliance had three teams (countries). The game field stimulated a plant using green energy. There was solar, a wind turbine and a combustion plant. The object was for the players to power the plant by delivering solar panels, turning the wind turbine and powering the reaction plant,” Pswarayi said.

Pswarayi added; “This year’s competition theme was ‘Energy Impact’ as topics such as climate change have an impact on the sustainability of the world. The mini-robots which were being used by the students are prototypes that can be turned into large scale machines. The design aspects and coding and the engineering are apt.”

During the competition, the adjudication was observing different competences and the Zimbabwean team won bronze in the Courageous Achievement Award.

“The award comprises testing both soft skills and technical skills as well as game performances in the matches,” said Pswarayi. Team captain Danai Hakata relished the experience which they took as a learning curve.

“I was really excited about going to Mexico and it was a great experience, meeting many people from different nations and cultures was absolutely amazing,” Hakata said.

The Robotics Olympics gave an opportunity for students to create technological solutions to real issues.

“From the Olympics I learnt that it is not about winning the competition only, but it is about working together to solve a global problem, which was how we can get more green energy.

Each team had a unique robot, all built from the same kit that made me realise how important it is to always think outside the box,” Hakata said, promising to help the next team when they build their robot. According to the students’ coach Charles Matanga it took the team four months to build the robot at Impact Hub in Harare where the programme was being coordinated.

Currently Zimbabwe is ranked 51 out of 193 in global high school robotics.

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