In today’s technology-driven world, students who study robotics and coding alongside traditional subjects like mathematics, English, science and humanities have a considerable advantage when they graduate high school or college.
This inclusion of robotics in the classroom allows students to develop new skills and understand the impact of technology on how things are done, and provides insight into how things will be done tomorrow.
Insights such as these, coupled with Dart’s long-standing support of STEM — education focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics — led Dart’s Education Programmes Manager Glenda McTaggart to champion the addition of an annual FIRST Global Challenge — a robotics competition — to Dart’s Minds Inspired programming. FIRST — an acronym for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” — is a United States-based non-profit organisation that provides hands-on STEM learning challenges for students in grades K–12.
In 2019, Dart will introduce a locally based Minds Inspired FIRST Tech Challenge, partnering with four like-minded companies that support STEM education in schools: Aureum Reinsurance Company, Ltd., Caribbean Utilities Company, Digicel and Health City Cayman Islands. Cayman’s first ever robotics competition will be the means for selecting the team to represent the Cayman Islands at the 2019 International FIRST Global Challenge.
A study carried out over four years, in collaboration with FIRST, sought to find out if after-school robotics programs are effective in promoting and supporting the kinds of interests and attitudes likely to lead to sustained involvement in STEM. Data points collected over the four years suggest that intensive STEM activities have a lasting and positive impact on students’ attitudes to STEM beyond high school and into college.
Learning about robotics can help students develop many skills, including:
Channeling frustration into an innovative outcome
Communications and teamwork
Robotics is at the forefront of many of today’s technological advancements: household robotic vacuums; autonomous military applications; robotics in public security such as face recognition or security bots; and cloud connected devices in our homes, many of which come with voice recognition and commands.
Robotics is also creating advances in fields such as medicine, allowing surgeons to perform delicate and complex procedures that may have been difficult or impossible with other methods. In the construction industry, robotics technology is beginning to be used for building bridges, with the first-ever 3D printed bridge recently being built in the Netherlands. This combination of 3D printing and industrial robots is one of the most promising examples of automation technology in the construction industry.
Dart supports the vision of Dan Kamen, founder of FIRST Robotics, “…to transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”
That vision echoes a sentiment shared by Dart CEO Mark VanDevelde.
“The focus on STEM is rooted in Dart’s commitment to help equip Cayman’s youth with the skills required to be tomorrow’s leaders,” he says. “STEM classes teach more than the subjects being studied; they are a meaningful way for students to learn collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity — skills that are vital for success in today’s workplace.”