Raro robo-kids foot it with the best

Five students will design and build robots to compete in the FIRST Global Challenge robotics competition with a cause in Dubai.

FIRST Global is a non-profit organisation that promotes science and technology education and careers, through Olympics-style robotics competitions.

The students will have to design three robots that will have the capacity to move objects and operate them in a game to clear pollutants out of a game arena symbolising rubbish in the ocean, a global concern that has added meaning for the Cooks kids.

Tereora College’s digital technology teacher, Jana Robertson said the improvement of technology would benefit the whole Cook Islands – though she doesn’t think we need robots.

The competition comes the same month that resort owner Tata Crocombe declared that if hotel workers want an increase to the minimum wage, they should be more productive – or face being replaced with technology.

The aim of the competition is to develop creative and innovative ideas to solve problems – though probably not Crocombe’s problem.

Robertson said the theme of cleaning our oceans around the robotic design competition was really relevant here.

“I went out paddling and there was so much rubbish out there in the ocean, there were plastic bottles,” said Robertson. “How can we use technology to help us keep our oceans clean?”

She said there were satellites now that could help detect oil in the ocean, and so much potential here in the Cook Islands to develop technology equally powerful in safeguarding our environment.

Yesterday at the introduction of the competition, the students were scrambling to sign up and were eager to get to go to Dubai.

As part of a push to get more women into technology, the final team must have at least one girl, said Robertson.

With the support from the University of the South Pacific, students on their radar will have opportunities to gain scholarships to study IT.