Team Belize to compete in the International Olympic-Style Robotics Competition

Team Belize to compete in the International Olympic-Style Robotics Competition

In less than two weeks, students from the Belize High School (BHS) will be travelling to Geneva, Switzerland to participate in the International Olympic-Style Robotics Competition. The team, comprised of five students and two teachers, will face off against competitors representing more than 180 countries in the seven-day competition. The goal is for the various teams to build and program a robot to compete in specific games. Today, Vejea Alvarez visited the school to hear how the team is preparing for the event. 

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: For the fifth time in four years, five students from the Belize High School (BHS) will be resenting the Jewel at the FIRST Global Challenge, International Olympic-Style Robotics Competition. The team has been working diligently for the past three months to construct a robot from a kit provided by FIRST Global. The marvelous machine was engineered and programmed to execute specific tasks. Triston Bradley, a member of the team, explained that the goal of the event is to engage the youths in efforts aimed at using technology to solve the world’s problems. 

Triston Bradley, Student, Belize High School: “FGC is a global competition hosted by the company FIRST. FIRST is an international organization that helps bring young minds together across the world to solve the world’s problems. So this year for FGC every year FGC has one grand challenge we have to solve a problem about this year’s theme is carbon capture. Carbon is a gas that is a part of the greenhouse gasses which are the main causes of global warming so this year’s theme is that we have to find a way to lower the levels of carbon in the atmosphere.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Team Belize will be now moving on to phase two of the competition where they will be presenting their robot to a panel of experts. Jayden Chen explained that the event includes completing various tasks in a game themed around tackling climate change. 

Jayden Chen, Student, Belize High School: “Basically before we began designing a robot we needed to know how we wanted our robot to look like and function. So the FIRST Global Competition has a game component where we would have to have collect and store carbon elements which are represented as black balls on the field we’d have to take it to the compressor and drop it off at the compressor. The human player would either throw the ball into the center tube or have the robot to launch it then at the end of the game there will be three bars, a low bar a middle bar and a high bar. The robot has to choose either one of them to lock onto and climb up.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: But, choosing the best design for their robot was not an easy task. The team initially crafted a prototype which they used to as a model for their robot. Justin Zhou explained that the machine was designed with specific regulations and was retrofitted to be operated manually using the control from a video game console. 

 Justin Zhou, Student, Belize High School: “During our building phase we also have something called an engineering log. In this engineering log we have step by step of what we did everyday explaining exactly descriptively what we did and what we used so in the case that we do need to go back and see what we missed out  if you wanna change the robot we can go back to see what we did and how to change it properly. FIRST Global they give you something called a driver hub where you connect the motors to the hub manually with wires and then the hub then acts like a Wi-Fi signal where you can connect to another monitor and from the monitor you can access the hub, you can program and configure everything and then  attach configure the buttons on the controller to that control the robot.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: The school’s group of eight students will not only be making their mark on the international stage but at home as well. Melisa Choi spoke about their plan to partner with NGO Oceana Belize to combat climate change with the use of mangroves. 

Melisa Choi, Student, Belize High School: “There is a side challenge from FIRST Global that is a challenge deals with what we can do within our community to help with carbon capture. For us we decided that we wanted to restore mangroves. If you see there is a strip of mangroves next to Haulover Bridge which is quite close so us and what we are planning to do is that we can better renovate that place to make it a tourist site and we’re also planning to collaborate with the tourism board and see if there is some sort of way where we can implement those tourist tours and allow them to also look at our mangroves because our mangroves are considered quite exquisite among the world.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: The Belize High School has developed a reputation with taking technology in the classroom to another level. Principal, Jamie Lee Usher, says their participation in this event shows the leaps and bounds the school has made in the field of robotics.  

Jamie Lee Usher, Principal, Belize High School: “ It is our honor to represent Belize in something as trending as robotics from an educational perspective so this is not anything that is limited to this one experience this is a year-round annual program that builds every year an opportunity for our Belizean students to show what they can do. So this program is something that we are hoping other schools will reach out and find out how they can integrate it therefore we are not only saying to other countries that Belize is there competitively but to other students to have the potential to showcase what science, technology, engineering, arts and math can look like.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: A part from providing the participants with extensive experience and knowledge in the field of robotics and information technology the competition according to Benny He, is a great way for young brilliants minds to network and promote their countries.

Benny He, Student, Belize High School: “With robotics you really get to put in your creativity into it you get to put in your innovation and with FIRST Global one of the many benefits that it offers and one of the many opportunities that it offers is actually being able to meet all the different teams that come together in this competition. So with that you can gain the perspective of those teams, the ideas of those teams and really come together and collaborate because again it’s about coopertition which is a term they used to speak about everybody collaborating together in one collaborative effort. Also being there and also being able to share about Belize to all those other countries because again every country has their own unique norms being there sharing about Belize is one of the many great things that FIRST Global has to offer to us.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: The team’s logo is a Scarlet Macaw which was inspired by a Mayan legend which depicts the birds as the guardians of clean air. Vejea Alvarez, Love News 

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