The saying that ‘Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win Championship’ became to reality on Saturday, March 30, 2019, when a team of young Nigerian kids, aged 6-10 years, from Port Harcourt, Rivers State won the Teamwork Award at the FIRST® LEGO® League Junior (FLL Jr.) International Expo in California, United States of America.
The team members include Okechukwu Samira Peculiar; Amos Uduak and Ayeba-Enenimiete Owatarite. They were coached by Uchechukwu Odiaka and Mercy Makagni.
Recall, Enterprise Software giant SAP and CODERINA Educational Foundation (the Operational partner of the program in Nigeria) took a leap of faith, five years ago by helping to start FIRST ®LEGO ®League (FLL®) in Nigeria.
The program has grown over the years and is now yielding the expected impacts. 28,000 students and 1,134 teachers have been introduced to robotics, coding, and project-based learning through the FLL and the FLL Jr. programs.
The three popular programs, Jr. FLL, FLL and FIRST Tech Challenge are the worlds leading robotics and project-based learning programs. All three programs are available to future proof Nigerian kids and prepare them to compare and compete with other kids around the world.
FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. is exciting is an entry-level experiential and fun global robotics and project-based program that ignites an enthusiasm for discovery, science, and technology in kids ages 6 to 10.
FLL Jr. captures young children’s curiosity and directs it toward discovering the wonders of science and technology.
The program was developed to introduce 6 to 10-year-olds (grades primary school and early JSS) to science concepts and teamwork.
The program was created through a partnership between FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and the LEGO Group.
The advanced level program for JSS and SSS level students, FLL® is a program for a team (comprising of 2-10) of children from ages 9 to 16 and has three components comprising of Project, Robot Game and Core Values.
Through each of these components they are tasked (working during the FLL season lasting about a period of 8weeks) with the responsibility of carrying out research on an annual theme by offering innovative solutions to issues, Build, design and program robots to carry out certain missions on the FLL table and also interviewed based on the Core Values of FLL – Gracious Professionalism and Competition.
In January 2019, spectators cheered on as six hundred (600) contestants, ages 9 to 16, demoed their robotic ideas.
At the end of the two-day annual FLL Nigeria National Championship hosted by Baze University, Abuja, Team AI Squad hillside school emerged Champions; Kings college Lagos – Project; Ikot Obio Itong, Akwa Ibom State – Core Values; FGGC, Odogbolu & Team Kids Mechanics from Hide school- Robot design; Command School Lagos – Judges Award; Deeper life school – Robot performance; Coach Enoch – Outstanding Mentor/ coach, while, the Federal Science and Technical College, Michika (North East), won the “Against all odds” awards.
The National Championship also created an avenue for teams to represent Nigeria at an international championship.
Thus, the Nigerian team from Port Harcourt had a good outing in California winning the Teamwork Category which is one of the most important categories for young kids of their age.
It is interesting to note that the Federal Ministry of Education, having realized the potential impact the programs have on students, recently partnered with Coderina to introduce coding and robotics to schools across the country.
The programs will help Nigerian students discover the excitement of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering Arts and Mathematics) as it makes these subjects easier to learn in a fun and relatable way.
Speaking at the National Championship in January, the Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu represented by the Director, Technology and Science Education Department, at the Ministry; Elizabeth Adedigba, said that Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) as very crucial in the development of any nation.
According to her, Capacity Building is very key in determining the way the pendulum of development of any nation will swing in the next decade. “Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind”.
“I want to use this opportunity to appeal to well-meaning Nigerian and other well-wishers of the education to support this initiative of setting the pace for our future generation”, Mrs. Adedigba.
Speaking on the pupil’s successful outing, Mr. Olajide Ademola Ajayi of SAP and Program Coordinator, said that they deserve accolades as great ambassadors of the country.
He said that these are great programs that introduce students to the world of innovation and critical thinking. The programs equip students with requisite skills for the knowledge economy.
He further described FLL as a powerful experiential learning program through which students learn grit and perseverance in preparation for overcoming future challenges and making wise decisions in life outside coding and robotics.
“These kids and their coaches deserve to be hailed and encouraged to continue to develop and deepen their knowledge. They should also become role models for their peers and serve as inspiration and motivation to others that teamwork and dedication trump all”, Mr. Ademola Ajayi remarked.