World Robot Olympiad contest will challenge UAE students

The latest World Robot Olympiad contest will challenge youngsters to design, build and program robots that help reduce, manage and recycle waste.

Aside from programming, robotics and design, students will also learn about managing waste and improving the environment. Getty Images
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ABU DHABI // The latest World Robot Olympiad (WRO) contest will challenge youngsters to design, build and program robots to reduce, manage and recycle waste.

“Students will not only learn about programming and robotics and design, they will also learn about sustainable living because all the competition categories teach the students how to make the environment cleaner,” said Dr Najla Al Naqbi, e-Learning programme manager at Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), which is organising the competition.

The WRO, tentatively scheduled for June 3 and 4, is open to all students up to university level.

Prospective contestants can enter in teams of two or three people in one of four categories.

The regular category challenges primary school teams to build a robot to clean the roads on the way to school.

Junior and senior secondary school teams have to make a robot that collects recyclable waste and sorts it into recycling bins.

In the open category, teams are required to develop a robot that uses innovative solutions to manage waste.

In the advanced robotics challenge, university students have to develop a robot that can compete in a ball game.

The fourth category, WRO Football, is back by popular demand. It has a revised set of rules that makes it easier for the participants, according to Kerry Bailey, special adviser for e-Learning.

“It actually makes it more competitive and it allows more people to participate,” he said.

The top 20 teams from the UAE national competition will be eligible to represent the country at the WRO International Final in India from November 11 to 13.

Martha McLachlan, who teaches subjects in English at Shamma bint Mohammed School in Al Ain, said she was looking forward to getting her students involved in the competition.

“I like the fact that it’s collaborative, that it’s children-run, that the adults actually step back and let the kids do the problem solving and let them actually do the critical thinking,” she said.

“It engages them instantly because you’re talking their language. These are technological babies in a technological age. There is no sense in trying to go back because it’s all moving forward.”

Adec also introduced the First Lego League Challenge (FLLC), a new robotics competition that is open to pupils between nine and 16 years old.

The competition will take place on May 6 and 7.

Like the Robot Olympiad, the FLLC requires participants to use the Lego Mindstorms kits to build their robots.

But, unlike the WRO, the FLLC is open to teams of up to 10 members with two coaches, and it challenges them to research and devise solutions to real-world problems facing scientists.

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