Star Nieuws: Team Suriname – A STEM application can no longer be ignored in society

star news

(Translated from Dutch)

STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) application has become an indispensable part of society, which is increasingly dependent on technology. This has been particularly evident in the current Covid-19 pandemic. The Young Help Suriname Foundation has prepared 9 Surinamese youths to participate in the 13-week FGC International Robotics Games, which will end at the end of this month. “We train innovative thinking and skilled personnel for our own future.”

At the moment the team is in week 10 and is in 49th place with a total of 32 points on the ranking list with 174 Teams from 170+ countries. Due to Covid-19, it was unclear until two weeks before the start of the challenge whether she would continue. Team manager Ashna Mahepal says that unlike in previous years, the group does not travel. The challenge has been adapted and consists largely of assignments that can be completed using digital technology with no or just a few necessary meetings.

The theme has also been adapted and instead of devising a STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) / Robotics solution for one of the simulated ‘real-life world grand challenges’ (water, energy, security, medicine, food, education) for which the design, assembly and programming of a robot would be necessary and which would require physical meetings, the emphasis has been placed on strengthening the mutual as well as the international cooperation within the FG community.

There are 9 young people from Paramaribo, Nickerie and Saramacca in the team: Consuêlla Benschop, Eros Bianchi, Jamil Kromokarijo, Jamir Daiman, Kevin Cai, Shyfka Landveld, Siemran Jankie, Taufiq Shyamnarain and Youri Karijopawiro. The team is supervised by the FG-Suriname Alumni of recent years. This year’s Lead Mentor is Shayant Sital, supported by Ivana Codrington and Ayan Jhagroe and members of the 2018 and 2019 Robotics Team.

Teamwork and working with deadlines and digital tools are stimulated through a set of Social Media Challenges and within the set of Technical Challenges the STEM aspects are incorporated that mainly stimulate creative and strategic thinking. There are also STEM Talks / Interviews and Technical Training Sessions; all focused around the 2020 FGC Theme ‘Connecting Communities.

The foundation indicates that STEM application cannot be ignored in our lives, which are increasingly dependent on technology; this is particularly evident in this pandemic. She thinks it is time to give more support to initiatives that have proven that they can develop the necessary ‘Skills of the Future’ among our Surinamese youth. “After all, we train innovative thinking and skilled personnel for our own future.”

The foundation has pulled the work for the past 3 years with the support of, among others, the American Embassy, ​​the IDB, companies and individuals, but now a partner is needed who, together with her, takes the efforts one step higher. According to the foundation, investing in STEM and continued participation in the FGCs is important for a generation that can think and act innovatively and identify international cooperation opportunities.

During past FGC games, Surinamese teams have often offered support to countries in ‘improving’ their robot. Although the games produce a ‘ranking list’, preference is given to co-competition (cooperative competition) rather than just competition. Preference is also given to the annual selection of new students, so that more young people have the opportunity to be inspired by STEM and to be part of the large network of STEM-minded FG peers.