We met with the robotics students from Jinja SS at Hackerspace for the first time on Monday night. After a quick orientation where we gave a tour of the facility and we went over some newly established rules that we posted for the Hackerspace, some keys to being successful with STEM projects. (We had introduced the idea of STEAM projects to the students last Saturday and they were quick to point out our error on the poster as well as to recite all what each of the letters in the acronym stood for). So we quickly came to the conclusion that these are some bright students who were willing and eager to learn!
When we left the students on Saturday we asked them to arrive today with some ideas about a team name, logo and colours. We were unsure if they would be able to do this as they did not have any more club meetings scheduled between our sessions. They told us that they had met during their free time and had agreed unanimously that they wanted to form a robotics team and that they had come up with a name and a logo. The name of the newly founded team is J-Robotics, the J being for “Jinja” the town we’re working out of. The logo is still a work in progress and will be unveiled shortly. When we asked if they had all agreed on the name and logo they laughed and said that of course they had not all agreed but they had chosen what was clearly the best one (which we took to mean the ones done by the older kids).
To begin the students were instructed to open the VEX EDR kits that were donated to Hackers for Charity and on loan to us for the summer. Their job was to conduct inventory on all of the kits. This meant finding all of the parts and matching them to the parts list that we put together to accompany the kits. The purpose of this was two-fold: to ensure all of the pieces are in the kit, as well as to have them identify which components were which. Some of the different sets which included things like mechatronics, gears, sensors, metal stock and robot controllers were much larger than others so as some of the students finished early we started on the other tasks we needed to complete.
A few of the students finished the construction of the competition field. The one side needed to be reinforced and the lines needed to be taped on the field. The students were very diligent in completing their tasks and were able to troubleshoot some of the problems that they came across. There were two who stayed long after everyone else had finished to make sure that it was just right. We love this kind of attention to detail and identified and corrected a few errors we had made earlier in the process.
The others were given a quick tutorial on how to create a new Gmail account and login into WIX (a free online website builder and host site) to create a team website. They confidently took over and most of them said they were familiar with doing both of these things.
Between this, selecting some official team videographers to learn film editing software to document their process, and still others starting to follow the instructions to build the VEX “Clawbot” all of the students were very busy for the rest of the evening. All of the students were so engaged in what they were doing and were disappointed when we called it a night after 8:00. They said that they would stay until 10 even if it meant staying up late to complete their chores and homework. We had to shoo them out the door and explain that they needed to be rested in order to give their best performances! Working with students that are this enthusiastic about learning is hard to come by and it is definitely a first for us here in Uganda. We are so excited about the possibilities and feel like we have found the perfect group of kids for this particular undertaking.
We’re so thankful to Just Cause Uganda for spearheading this amazing effort! Please see the original post here!