Top News

UPDATE Provincial Lego robotics competition draws 400 competitors at Acadia


WOLFVILLE - Over 400 enthusiastic participants, 100 volunteers, parents and friends turned out for the Provincial Robot Programming Championship at Acadia University on Feb. 13.

This was the 11th year for the competitions and marked the 10-year anniversary for the Lego League being offered in Nova Scotia to kids ages nine to 14.

Both junior and senior competitors all had a time crunch: less than three minutes to complete tabletop missions or present their robots.

Dr. Dan Silver, director of the Acadia Institute for Data Analytics, said the focus was on building digital technologies and teamwork.

“There were a lot of moving parts, but everything ran smoothly and successfully,” he said.

Silver also saluted the imagination many of the teams displayed. Participants came clad in costumes that included everything from bottles as jet packs to three-piece suits.

This year, the Acadia Robotics team, in co-operation with the Nova Scotia Community College, engaged over 60 First Lego League (FLL) teams and 24 high school Robofest teams. Fifty-two of the best of these teams came to Acadia to compete.  

Silver, who teaches at the Jodrey School of Computer Science, addressed sponsors, educators and government representatives about some important achievements in the competition’s history.

He celebrated the collaboration of educational institutions, government and industry that has engaged youth in building digital technologies and teamwork.  

According to Silver, the competitions are important for connecting youth with computer science, digital technology and more generally Science Technology engineering and Math (STEM).  

The slow, steady rise in interest in STEM in the school system, he said, is helping to reduce stigmas around science amongst youth and is encouraging teamwork. For parents and students, he called the change a “groundswell.”

“Some of these children were disenfranchised or taken for granted, now they’re like star athletes,” Silver said.

The next step envisioned by the school of computer science is better education for beginning teachers and seasoned educators in order to build technology, digital democracy and computational thinking, he said.

Introducing technology is important, Silver said, in order for Nova Scotia to be competitive in industries like agriculture or the fisheries.

 

Kingston girls show their skills

The Kingston-based team, the Sisters of Science, formed a First Lego League team back in September.

The team of nine- to 11-year-old girls prepared for the competition by learning how to make a robot perform specific actions or missions.

Silver says he’s glad to see the numbers of girls and young women taking an interest in computer science is growing.

Today, about 10 per cent of computer science students are female, but when Silver was in university, the number was more like 30 to 35 per cent.

“I don’t know what happened - perhaps it was something to do with the web,” he said.

But one thing Silver knows for sure is that young women are good at detail and multi-tasking, as well as complex analytical and software work.

A decade ago, female computer science students only made up about five per cent of the average class in North America. Silver credits robotics and the inventor Dean Kamen for the rising numbers.

Many women are coming into the field from the business perspective, he says, and they find they like the design interface.

 

Did you know?

A well-known inventor with more than 440 U.S. and foreign patents, Dean Kamen created the insulin pump, the portable dialysis machine, and the Segway scooter. In 1989, Kamen also created the educational sports foundation, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology or FIRST. The group makes a sport out of getting youth to embrace technology and science and launched robotics competitions across North America.

 

Go online: http://robots.acadiau.ca 

 

This was the 11th year for the competitions and marked the 10-year anniversary for the Lego League being offered in Nova Scotia to kids ages nine to 14.

Both junior and senior competitors all had a time crunch: less than three minutes to complete tabletop missions or present their robots.

Dr. Dan Silver, director of the Acadia Institute for Data Analytics, said the focus was on building digital technologies and teamwork.

“There were a lot of moving parts, but everything ran smoothly and successfully,” he said.

Silver also saluted the imagination many of the teams displayed. Participants came clad in costumes that included everything from bottles as jet packs to three-piece suits.

This year, the Acadia Robotics team, in co-operation with the Nova Scotia Community College, engaged over 60 First Lego League (FLL) teams and 24 high school Robofest teams. Fifty-two of the best of these teams came to Acadia to compete.  

Silver, who teaches at the Jodrey School of Computer Science, addressed sponsors, educators and government representatives about some important achievements in the competition’s history.

He celebrated the collaboration of educational institutions, government and industry that has engaged youth in building digital technologies and teamwork.  

According to Silver, the competitions are important for connecting youth with computer science, digital technology and more generally Science Technology engineering and Math (STEM).  

The slow, steady rise in interest in STEM in the school system, he said, is helping to reduce stigmas around science amongst youth and is encouraging teamwork. For parents and students, he called the change a “groundswell.”

“Some of these children were disenfranchised or taken for granted, now they’re like star athletes,” Silver said.

The next step envisioned by the school of computer science is better education for beginning teachers and seasoned educators in order to build technology, digital democracy and computational thinking, he said.

Introducing technology is important, Silver said, in order for Nova Scotia to be competitive in industries like agriculture or the fisheries.

 

Kingston girls show their skills

The Kingston-based team, the Sisters of Science, formed a First Lego League team back in September.

The team of nine- to 11-year-old girls prepared for the competition by learning how to make a robot perform specific actions or missions.

Silver says he’s glad to see the numbers of girls and young women taking an interest in computer science is growing.

Today, about 10 per cent of computer science students are female, but when Silver was in university, the number was more like 30 to 35 per cent.

“I don’t know what happened - perhaps it was something to do with the web,” he said.

But one thing Silver knows for sure is that young women are good at detail and multi-tasking, as well as complex analytical and software work.

A decade ago, female computer science students only made up about five per cent of the average class in North America. Silver credits robotics and the inventor Dean Kamen for the rising numbers.

Many women are coming into the field from the business perspective, he says, and they find they like the design interface.

 

Did you know?

A well-known inventor with more than 440 U.S. and foreign patents, Dean Kamen created the insulin pump, the portable dialysis machine, and the Segway scooter. In 1989, Kamen also created the educational sports foundation, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology or FIRST. The group makes a sport out of getting youth to embrace technology and science and launched robotics competitions across North America.

 

Go online: http://robots.acadiau.ca 

 

Recent Stories