The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Saint Lu­cian stu­dents from four schools par­tic­i­pated in a two-day hackathon event to show­case their new skills as part of a United States Govern­ment-sup­ported Robotics and Cod­ing pi­lot pro­gramme. The pro­gramme re­lates to a branch of en­gi­neer­ing and sci­ence that al­lows stu­dents to de­sign and use ro­bots through com­puter pro­gram­ming.

The Robotics and Cod­ing ini­tia­tive is im­ple­mented by the United States Agency for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment’s (USAID) Com­mu­nity, Fam­ily and Youth Re­silience Project in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Saint Lu­cia’s Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. Dur­ing the hackathon, held un­der the theme “Code4Fun-Pro­gram­ming the Fu­ture”, stu­dents com­peted for in­di­vid­ual and team prizes, much to the de­light of par­ents, teach­ers, and peers who sup­ported them.

Mr. Kipp Sut­ton, Gen­eral Devel­op­ment Of­fice Di­rec­tor, USAID East­ern and South­ern Caribbean and the Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, Dr. Gale Rigob­ert, lauded the ini­tia­tive dur­ing the of­fi­cial cer­e­mony to launch the hackathon.

Mr. Sut­ton told the au­di­ence that the US Govern­ment was hon­oured to part­ner with the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion to sup­port the ex­cit­ing ini­tia­tive that pro­motes sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics, or “STEM”, as it is more widely known.

“The skills that stu­dents de­velop through STEM pro­grammes are skills that will help young peo­ple not only un­der­stand the world, but also equip them to change it,” Mr. Sut­ton said. He told par­tic­i­pants, “It is im­por­tant that you have the sup­port and re­sources you need to ex­plore, ex­per­i­ment, and in­no­vate. It is also im­por­tant that you make the most of this tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity to be­come fu­ture sci­en­tists and lead­ers in the Caribbean and be­yond.”

Since March of this year, 280 sec­ondary school stu­dents from Beane­field Com­pre­hen­sive in Vieux Fort, Bocage in Cas­tries, Grande Riviere Sec­ondary in Den­nery and Soufriere Com­pre­hen­sive in Soufriere have learned to build, cus­tom­ize, and pro­gramme ro­bots us­ing com­puter equip­ment and Lego Mind­storm kits pro­vided un­der the pi­lot project. Twelve teach­ers and five men­tors were also trained to de­liver the cus­tom­ized cur­ricu­lum with plans for its even­tual in­te­gra­tion into Saint Lu­cia’s sec­ondary school cur­ricu­lum.

Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Dr. Gale Rigob­ert (front cen­tre), Kipp Sut­ton, USAID Gen­eral Devel­op­ment Of­fice Di­rec­tor (back row, far right), along with other CFYR Project of­fi­cials and par­tic­i­pat­ing stu­dents.

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