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Jul 20, 2018

A Summer Camp for Robotics and Coding

A robotics and computer coding camp wrapped up today at the Samuel Haynes Institute in Belize City. Thirty kids between the ages of eleven and fourteen were selected to learn to build robots and how to do computer programming. The introductory programme taught the participants the basics and gave them a peek at the exciting and growing opportunities within the tech world. The summer camp was organized by a non-profit out of Los Angeles called Consortium for Belizean Development. Today we stopped in to find out what the kids have been learning over the past two weeks. Andrea Polanco shares more in the following story.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

For the past two weeks, thirty youths were learning about robotics and computer programming on the south side. It is a new kind of camp for children who aren’t really exposed to technology. And the facilitator Douglas Griffith wants these children to be more than just consumers of tech – he wants to see them become creators. He explains what they are learning in this introductory camp.

 

Douglas Griffith, Facilitator, Computer Coding & Robotics Camp

Douglas Griffith

“Coding is in demand right now. Everything is run by computers. So, to be able to programme these computers is very important. So, what we want to do is to get the kids involved as early as possible to learn the technology. So, the camp is divided into two weeks. The first week the kids learn to build a robot because we use the robot as a tool to teach the coding. The first week they assembled and build the robots. They worked in teams, built it from scratch and now they have functioning robots. And the second week, they learn the coding so they learn how the robots do the things they want to do. We have competition everyday where they programme the robot to do certain things like stacking cubes, moving things across a playing field. And it is done in a competitive nature, so they have teams, collaborate with each other and determine how is the best way to do the code so that they   have a better advantage of winning.”

 

Eleven-year-old Kelsey Cadle and fourteen-year-old Sokoni Babb are two of the participants in the camp.

 

Kelsey Cadle

Kelsey Cadle, Participant

“The people in there are so fun and happy to work with. They encourage us to do what we want to do and be what we want to be.”

Andrea Polanco

“Is this the first time you’re learning about robotics?”

Kelsey Cadle

“Yes, ma’m. This is the first time and it was really fun.”

Andrea Polanco

“Was it hard – was it challenging for you?”

 

Kelsey Cadle

“No, ma’m. It was a little first because some of them I didn’t understand that much.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, now is this something you’d like to do – as a career, when you get older?”

 

Kelsey Cadle

“Yes. It is really fun and sometimes it can be good for our community because technology is a big deal for our country.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So you have any particular robot that you’d like to build?”

Kelsey Cadle

“I think I would like to build a car that can fly.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“You don’t want to make one that will help you clean your house?”

 

Kelsey Cadle

“Mhmm and do my homework.”

 

Sokoni Babb

Sokoni Babb, Participant

“It is a good experience for all of us here in Belize. It is educational and teaches us everything that we need to know in the future. Coding and robotics – it is kinda hard but as soon as you get into the knowing and doing aspect of robotics you get the understanding and it becomes easier.”

Andrea Polanco

“Is this an area that you perhaps would like to pursue when you are older – as a career?”

Sokoni Babb

“Oh yes! It is very fun and I feel like I could do more in it and I could do better in the future.”

 

Griffith says that while the participants are learning about coding and robotics – they are also strengthening and acquiring skills that can be applied in everyday life.

Douglas Griffith

“The kids are picking up a lot of things that they are not even aware of. They learn how to solve problems. When you write code and you tell a computer to do something, it doesn’t always work. So, now you have to go back and figure out what was wrong and what change you could make it work. So, you can apply that to anything in life. Coding in itself teaches you how to think. That is the biggest advantage of coding. Coding also requires things being done in sequence, so it has to be logical. It is like when you are baking a cake, for example, there are certain steps you have to do. You can’t just tell the computer to do something, you have to tell it exactly each step, step by step, how to do it.”

 

Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

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