School develops model automated combine harvester, landmines remover Information Communication Technology (ICT) Postal and Courier Services Minister, Tatenda Mavetera (second from right) is helped by her deputy Dingimuzi Phuti (right) to hand over laptops to Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s chief director, Olicah Kaira during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) tour of Tynwald High School’s robotic department in Harare yesterday. — Picture: Edward Zvemisha.

Trust FreddyHerald Correspondent 

THE multi-award winning Tynwald School robotics team has developed prototypes for three game-changing projects with a potential to improve crop harvesting, home gardening and landmine removal.

The prototypes include a combine harvester that can operate automatically, a lawnmower that requires minimal human intervention and a robot that can clear landmines safely and efficiently.

These forward-thinking innovations were revealed yesterday during a school tour by ICT Minister Tatenda Mavetera, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to assess the pupils’ ICT robotics initiatives.

Tanatswa Taremba, a 14-year-old programmer, explained that the new combine harvester was designed to reduce back problems among combine harvester drivers adding that the robot was capable of working around the clock.

“We have noticed that people have to do class 2 so that they can drive a combine harvester and all that. Right now, since robotics is there, we are replacing the driver because drivers often suffer from back aches due to incorrect driving posture.

“Now, with an automated combine harvester, it will be easy since it can work overnight,” he said.

Shelton Chinowona (17), one of the minds behind the remote-controlled combine harvester prototype, believes that artificial intelligence should be used to automate farming.

Tynwald High School robotics team member, Zoey Chibune (left) explains the robotic prototypes while teammate, Blessing Kuhuni (right) looks on during the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) tour of the School’s robotic tour. – Picture: Edward Zvemisha.

“We don’t need to have human beings moving around in a farm picking cabbages, we can simply pick them using that set up then we attach a conveyor belt and packaging is done immediately so anything on a farm like watermelons, cabbages that can actually be pushed inside the robot without any challenge or any form of digging we can use that type,” he said.

Darryl Mubvuma (15) was motivated to create a robot that can detect landmines after seeing the tragic loss of life caused by landmines in his community.

“I just thought that many people are dying from demining processes, and building a robot for that will be very efficient. It has a claw, it is going to have a sensor, and is designed to detect landmines,” he said.

According to the team’s coach, Mr Charles Matanga, the robot designed by the pupils can be used for a variety of purposes beyond just demining. “You are going to notice that if we are going to use human beings, life can be lost. If it’s a robot, we can always build another one. We can attach sensors, and they can be used for demining in the security sector.

Tynwald High School robotics team programmer, Tanatswa Taremba (right) with teammates, Daryl Mubvuma (left) and Shelton Chinoona explain about the robotic prototypes during the STEAM tour of the School’s robotics department  in Harare yesterday.

“It has more of a ladder; we call it the linear mechanism; it can move up and down. In construction, we can use the same robot again if we are fixing lights in the streets, and we can use the same robot again in firefighting, where we can actually attach sprinklers.”

The team also revealed that they were currently developing another robot that can produce biodegradable plastic, which could have a positive impact on soil fertility.

The biodegradable plastic produced by the robot decomposes in less than five years, making it an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastic. 

Charmed by the team’s forward-thinking innovations, Minister Mavetera donated 10 laptops, a white board and a projector.

The minister said coding and robotics are the new oil, and any forward-looking nation must have these subjects taught in schools.

“By introducing these subjects in schools Zimbabwe can equip its students with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in the digital era. 

“To this end we applaud the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education for introducing ICT as a compulsory subject from as early as primary school.

“The Zimbabwe we want requires ICT skills that can help all our people to navigate the digital economy that we are working towards establishing before the year 2030.” 

Minister Mavetera also added that collaboration between the Ministry of ICT and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education was a key strategy for fostering the integration of ICT knowledge in schools.

In recent years Tynwald High School in Harare has gained recognition for its remarkable achievements in the field of robotics.

The school won the gold XPRIZE Innovator Award last year for developing an innovative solution to combat climate change at the 2022 FIRST Global Challenge competition held in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Zimbabwean team’s innovation had a good solution for agriculture, cassava crop and removing plastics, in a way that helped fight global warming.

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