Marlvern Chimbwanda U6 Mufakose 1 High
We are excited to be part of the 2020 Zimbabwe National Robotics Team that is participating the FIRST Global Challenge.
FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology.”
The robotics challenge, conducted Olympic-style, started in 2017 and Zimbabwean students have been participating since.
The 2020 team includes Ropafadzo Baera, L6 student at Tynwald High; Artwell Kumbirai, U6 at Mabvuku High; Mitchell Musadziruma, L6 student at Tynwald High; Tariro Chiadzwa, L6 at Glen View 1 High; and the team captain Marlvern Chimbwanda, U6 at Mufakose 1 High.
It is a great honour to represent Zimbabwe in a contest where more than 170 countries are participating.
FIRST Global is more than a robotics challenge. We have acquired experience in technical and soft skills.
Says Ropafadzo Baera: “It has made me aware of my surroundings. I really didn’t give much attention to what was around me but now when I see a problem I try to think about how I can improve the situation using the resources around me.”
The challenge has helped me to become growth minded, thinking outside the box and seeing problems as challenges, not obstacles. I am a very technical person, I spend my time tinkering with robotic components but here I am writing an article, a skill I have started to work on since I became part of FIRST Global.
It has taken me out of my comfort zone but I am ready for the challenge. I think it speaks more of the interdisciplinary nature of STEM, particularly robotics.
So to my peers out there who may shy away from science and technology stuff, I encourage you to try it out, you may never know. Experimentation will help you discover what you are good at earlier.
STEM education is igniting numerous essential talks and is an approach that dwells on one or more of the four disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
We are in an era whereby technical and scientific skills are evidently of importance, especially when it comes to the development of Zimbabwe.
STEM skilled personnel are important for the implementation of value addition, beneficiation, industrialization, and economic development efforts, the thrust of the government’s Education 5.0 approach.
We want to encourage our peers to engage in STEM activities no matter which field they are into, even if they want to pursue Humanities or the Arts. STEM is something that one should be familiar with as it cuts across every aspect of life.
The format for this year’s FIRST Global Challenge is different because of the Covid-19 pandemic which means we cannot meet in person.
We have managed to work on diverse sets of challenges — impact and technical challenges, technical training sessions and several others which help us explore our gifting and interests.
We have also have the privilege to listen to inspirational STEM talks from established scientists and engineers including one from the Founder of FIRST Dean Kamen, a serial inventor.
To young people like me, you might be in Kambuzuma, Entumbane, Mkoba, Dangamvura, Mvurwi or Rujeko. I want to encourage them to start tinkering with what they have — find a dead computer shell and learn how it’s wired and constructed.
Familiarise yourself with science and technology using the resources around you. If you have a broken iron at home open it up and play around with it as long as you do it safely. Do not just use Instagram and WhatsApp, learn how it works.
As a team, we are prepared to work with younger learners and train them on coding, robotics and leadership so that we pass the baton.
We are grateful to our coaches and mentors for sharing with us their knowledge, networks and resources.
We are sharing our journey in the robotics challenge on social media, our Facebook page “FIRST Global Zimbabwe.”
We will strive to be good STEM ambassadors in our communities and work towards building the skills required for the prosperity of our nation.