Seprod Foundation and Halls of Learning to Send Jamaican National Team to World Robot Olympiad

Excitement is in the air as tech-based social enterprise Halls of Learning in partnership with the Seprod Foundation prepares to send off a team of Jamaican students to participate in the finals of the World Robot Olympiad (WRO) slated to take place in Győr, Hungary from November 8-10.

Originally established in 2004, the WRO is a global robotics competition for children and young people. The competition has since grown to include over 600,000 participants in 26,000 teams, from 65 countries. Competing teams use LEGO Mindstorms Robotics kits to design, build and program an autonomous robot to accomplish various challenges.

This is the second year of Jamaica’s participation in the WRO, and of Seprod Foundation’s sponsorship of Jamaica’s national team to the international competition. A team from St. Hugh’s Prep, the winners of the elementary section at the National WRO competition, will be competing in the international competition’s elementary section against teams from all over the world. This is just one of the many initiatives to come out of a long and fruitful partnership with Halls of Learning, the national organizer for the WRO.

Seprod Foundation Chairperson, Melanie Subratie remarked, “the Seprod Foundation is proud to once again contribute to Jamaica’s participation in the WRO. Being able to send a Jamaican national team to the World Robot Olympiad is just incredible, especially after such a close competition. We hope that everyone gets on board with following their progress, and cheers on yet another Jamaican team competing at a global level, where one day such a Jamaican team could possibly be a global leader in a robotics competition. And who knows, perhaps that day is not so far away. Let’s get Jamaica to take its rightful place in the global economy of the 21st century, and teams like this are going to make such a vision a reality. It’s no longer ‘Go on St Hugh’s Prep!’ let’s all say ‘GO TEAM JAMAICA!’”

Robotics is an excellent way to engage children in STEM subjects and design, all of which have become essential skills for the modern world and by extension national development. This year’s competition will be held under the theme SMART Cities and requires participants to create new concepts, ideas and technologies that can help to build cities of the future. The competition challenges include developing a self-driving taxi and a robot capable of replacing old light bulbs with smart lights.

Commenting on the upcoming competitions, Halls of Learning founder Marvin Hall also noted, “I was very proud of the composure maintained by the St Hugh’s Prep when their robot did not perform as expected. While their robot made mistakes, they kept making adjustments, remained positive and never gave up resulting in a very thrilling win for their team on the final attempt. At the international finals, these traits and technology skills will be matched by their counterparts from 70+ countries. Until Jamaica submits its students to PISA testing, competitions like this remain a good yardstick for how our primary education ranks with the rest of the world. The skills being nurtured by these robotics students will be important for the future development of our country.”

The Seprod Foundation and Halls of Learning have jointly presented several coding and robotics projects including Scratch Day workshops in schools. Their upcoming Hour of Code event will take place during Computer Science Education week in December, where over 400 children, ages 7-10 years old from 5 inner-city primary schools will be introduced to computer science and computer coding through fun and engaging activities.