The Belize High School Robotics Team placed 50th out of 175 international teams at the First Global Challenge 2020. The Challenge began on June 27 and ended on September 25. The three months were filled with social media and technical challenges, talks by Science, Technology, English and Math (STEM) professionals, and technical training sessions. The competition usually engages students in the field of robotics but this year they decided to engage the youths in all aspects of STEM. This year things were also different due to the COVID-19 pandemic as explained by one of the Mentors for the team Marceli Young.
Marceli Young, Mentor for the Team Belize: “This year’s competition took a totally different spin than every previous competition because this year we’re all separated due to a pandemic. So First Global had to find a way to still keep our students globally connected but also engaged and it was so amazing to see the creativity and innovation that they came up with in how to actually keep our students engaged in the STEM challenges. And so this year they took away the concept of going internationally and performing in an actual competition of building a robot and competing against other countries and they broke it down into smaller competitions that they call challenges and those challenges focused on a larger aspect than just building a technical robot it was also inclusive of problem solving from the basic level to a more complex level and then social media competitions which is something that you know we need to embrace in this new era. So all the different challenges that were done also incorporated technical advice that was offered from First Global. They had STEM talks from various professionals in the field inclusive of the owner of First Global Mr.Dean Kamen and Will.I.Am one of the entertainers that we all know and got to love as we got involved in this he is also one of the founding members and he gave a great STEM talk to our students. Our global students were also able to engage in communicating with each other using different platforms. So they took away the fact that we actually had to go over to another country to do these competitions but instead right here in our very own country working remotely from home our students were able to participate and they did so very successfully.”
We got a chance to speak with the members of the team who told us about their experience.
Kent Haylock, Team Belize: “This year as the captain I had many challenges that I had to face and it was mentally and physically challenging because I had to show my team that we can keep moving forward even though we ran into challenges that felt like it was overwhelming.”
Nathan Sharp, Team Belize: “This year it took a turn with turning into fully virtual and the change has been a little bit tricky. It’s been a little hard to adjust but overall the way that First Global did it it really helps you build your problem solving skills and your team working skills when you’re working under conditions like these so over all it’s just been a great experience and I would recommend anyone to join.’
The team also spoke about their project that they developed for this year’s competition.
Lance Bolastig, Team Belize: “The first type of challenge were technical challenges. This is what you would have seen more of in the in person challenges because it more has to do with the engineering of robotics and using the different elements of STEM such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics. To participate in these challenges First Global also set up STEM talks where people with experience spoke to us about how we can improve our designs and how they tackle different issues in their professional career. The second type of challenge that we participated in were social media challenges. These challenges is where I took the lead on, Kent would have taken the lead on technical challenges, that’s where we would do different things such as communicate with others from different countries who are participating in the challenges as well as implement challenges in our own community such as our project IMPACT challenge: 3 bins, 2 goals, 1 Home that Hannah will talk more about.”
Hannah Zetina, Team Belize: “Like Lance had said before we are working on 3 bins, 2 goals, 1 Home. So with this we want to create a sustainable school community on BES and BHS grounds but we want to expand this to other high schools as well. So one of our ideas is to implement three bins initiative with the hope of two outcomes: one, properly manage waste at school, two, reduce the amount of litter around the school then aim to create a community who is enthusiastic and knowledgeable about preserving the earth.”