One thousand three hundred and twenty (1,320) students from one hundred and thirty-two (132) teams including students from all 104 Unity Schools in Nigeria are among 500,000+ children around the world who participated in the 2020/2021 FIRST LEGO League Challenge RePLAY session Challenge.
Highlights of the season include, amazing, custom-built robots came to life in fast-paced, timed competitions and thousands of festively dressed students and their coaches putting designs and skills to the test.
Other highlights are Children interacting with colleagues from other schools and meeting with judges from the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, On-site teamwork, troubleshooting, problem-solving, Learning research projects on display and Spirit and excitement as students and friends cheer for their school teams
To successfully complete the Challenge, teams of young people must conduct research and then build and program a LEGO Education SPIKE Prime or LEGO MINDSTORMS robot to perform fitness-themed missions in the RePLAY Robot Game.
The aim of the program was to help students develop innovation, critical thinking and lifelong skills and these are the skills that would prepare them for the future of work and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4iR).
The program was organized by Coderina Education and Technology Foundation (Coderina) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education with support from SAP, DOW, Ford, NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency, the LEGO Foundation and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).
The National First Lego League (FLL) Robotics Championship: Due to the need to comply with Covid-19 safety protocols, the coming together of over 800 students of the 104 Unity Schools for the FLL Tournament, which should have been at a single location, was divided into two, along regional lines.
Students from schools in the Northern and Southern regions of Nigeria, competed in Kano and Lagos respectively in a head-to-head, putting more than 12 weeks of research, design, and programming to the test in the 1st ever Regional Championships to win honors and recognition.
For the National Championship, the regional qualifiers/winners, alongside other private schools and neighborhood teams converged online in a 3-day virtual competition. At the end of the National Championship, Queen College Lagos; a new entrant to the program and all-girls school, emerged as the overall winner of the Championship.
The three teams won places to represent Nigeria at the International Open Championship in Greece.
The National Champions from Queens College created an amazing App called Access- The app that gets people active by connecting people interested in the same sports.
Many other teams like FGGC Ikot Obio, Vivian Fowler Memorial College, FGC Robochi, FSTC Usi-Ekiti, FSTC Tungbo, FGC Daura, FGGC Ezzamgbo, Hillside School Abuja and others won accolades in different categories.
Speaking the Championship, the Director, Technology & Science Education, Federal Ministry of Education (Nigeria), Mrs. Elizabeth Adedigba, said that the objective is to expose the children to 21st Century technology and skills.
She said, “The Ministry is aware of the fact that the world does not wait for anybody and artificial intelligence is gaining ground across sectors. The Federal Unity Colleges; being model schools, we have to start with the children to acquire the skills and boost their creative insights, innovation and teamwork progression such they can build it in them right from this stage.
“We are equipping them for the challenges of the future and the workplace of the future; we can’t afford to leave our students untutored along this line because we want them to be globally competitive, entrepreneurs. We want jobs to look for them; the reverse shouldn’t be the case”, she added.
The Director said that from the students’ performances, the future of Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering (STEM) is bright.
On his part, the Chairman, Board of Coderina Education and Technology Foundation, Femi Niyi, Coderina, described the participation over time as phenomenal.
Niyi said that educators, parents and teachers have all realized that technology has a significant role to play in today’s society and gaining fluency in the use of it has become inevitable.
Speaking further, he said, “We are in an unusual season which means we had to navigate the Zonal Championship in a very strategic way to ensure that students and their mentors are well protected from COVID- Strict observance of COVID protocols and adherence to guidelines limited the fun somewhat. We hope to continue to run the national championship in a way that ensures no one is put in harm’s way.
“The earlier stage of the season was difficult for teams due to school closures. However, with school resumption, it was easier to put the teams in one bubble where they work collectively while adhering to strict COVID prevention guidelines.
“Carrying out physical site visits and interviews and feedback sessions with experts was a major problem reported by most teams. However, some teams devised creative ways of running virtual feedback sessions”, he said. “The support we received from the Federal Ministry of Education is unparalleled. Seeing the initiative to all Federal Unity Colleges would not have been possible without the great commitment of the leadership of the Ministry and the project managers. We are really excited to have such a decent collaboration.
“The coaches”, the Chairman, said, “are helping to mold their teams for the future of work, while the students are building, designing and engineering their digital future”.
He added that Coderina’s readiness to partner with schools and parents to future-proof their students or wards should contact Coderina via: Planning@coderina.org.
“To all child-friendly organisations out there, there’s no better way to stretch your philanthropy budget than sponsoring a school, team or child and help prepare them for the future”, he said.