ROBOTS ARE HERE – How to fly a UFO…

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Fire Tech Camp run camps in the UK to encourage and inspire young ones to coding and programming and thanks to the Kusuma Trust Gibraltar, they are now here, in Gib!

This is the second year Fire Tech Camp have visited Gibraltar to work with young people. Last year, a pilot scheme was organized with the help of the Department of Education to test the workshops to see if it was something which could be delivered to a large cohort of students. The pilot was a resounding success with glowing feedback from teachers and students alike, with one pupil enthusiastically stating “I love it so much, I don’t want to go” when asked if they enjoyed the session.

Catching students when they are young, this year’s workshops have been aimed at Year 3 so seven-eight-year-olds. Incredibly, every Year 3 student in Gibraltar had an opportunity to take part in this workshop through a week in May. That’s over 400 students.

Robots are roaming free

During the one hour session, Fire Tech Camp deliver hands on workshops teaching the young pupils how to use Ozbots. What the heck are Ozbots, I hear anyone over the age of 20 cry? Ozbots are small toy robots which present an innovative way to teach coding and programming. They are, quite frankly, amazing.

The students were asked to write their name in joined-up handwriting in black pen, they then were taught to program the Ozbot to follow their name. By the end of the class, they could create colour-coded commands to make the robot perform tasks. Outclassed by a group of seven-year-olds!

As a self-confessed technophobe, it has been incredible to watch pupils of such a young age engaged in the ‘art’ of coding and programming. It’s hard to not be incredibly jealous that there isn’t an adult version.

Mr Devincenz-Clemens, Teacher at Loreto Convent, said; “The sessions were delivered at a good pace, with relevant knowledge for the pupils to understand.” He commented that these sessions complimented the work already being done in classrooms in an engaging and interesting manner for students.

Mr Devincenz-Clemens is one of 20 teachers who will also be attending an in service day with the Fire Tech Camp professionals. The Department of Education, who have been integral in the success of this initiative, have kindly allowed staff to take the morning to spend time with Fire Tech Camp and chief organiser Angela Brennan. Angela develops and designs ICT curriculum and training to schools, and teachers in the UK. She has delivered Arduino workshop at Facebook HQ in London and is also known for her work with Barclays Digital Eagles campaign.

Darren Grech Director of Education explained that; “Computer Programming is just another language. We are already supporting the development of Spanish and, indeed, other languages at a very early age throughout our schools and, moreover, in the recently launched language school. Learning how to program is yet another absolutely necessary skill, as important as striving to be bilingual. The Fire Tech initiative, therefore, fits perfectly with our development plan over five years.” He added; “We are very grateful to the Kusuma Trust for once again organising and financing these very worthwhile educational projects. Education is all about shaping the minds of the citizens of tomorrow, and Kusuma clearly buys into this. The buzz generated and photos of smiling children certainly tell the story of a resounding success.”

Sending rockets to space

Not quite, but almost. The team of twelve from Fire Tech Camp has also been in Westside, Bayside and Prior Park after school. The pupils who attended these sessions were not only given a two-hour workshop but each participant was allowed to keep the kits given to them at Kusuma Trusts expense. Joey Garcia, Director of the Kusuma Trust Gibraltar, said that further learning out of the classroom was essential for “the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates to develop”. The kits worth £200 each are micro:bit and the Binary Bot which can be used to get UFO’s flying and sensing temperature light and motion, and LittleBit Gizmos and Gadget which can be used for students to create their own inventions using snappable electronics.

Angela reported the girls “took ownership of the project. There was high energy in the room and it was great to see the students working together.” She went on to explain that after having completed some of the tasks set by the Fire Tech Camp team the students “began to prototype their own ideas, which shows how creative and technically capable they are. It was great to see.”

Coding, teching and programming are essential for our young to learn and develop in the new technical age but not only that, it’s also incredibly fun! Wouldn’t you love to know how to fly a UFO just from creating a bit of code?

words | Angela Almeida   photos | Kusuma Trust and Fire Tech Camp