By the time the sun rose over Mexico City students at the ORT school were well into the task in hand – designing, building and programming a robot capable of collecting and sorting sheets of coloured paper.
At the same time, thousands of miles away, teams of students at ORT schools in Estonia, Ukraine, Russia and Moldova (as well as Ecuador’s Unidad Educativa Particular Bilingue Principito y Marcel Laniado de Wind) were doing the same thing – a perfect illustration of the exciting opportunities provided by the World ORT network.
They had five hours in which to complete the task, the opening challenge in Colegio Israelita de Mexico – ORT’s inaugural Robotics Tournament.
Some 150 teams from six countries took part in the tournament, which has placed CIM-ORT at the forefront of school robotics in Mexico.
“When talking about education for the future you have to start with today. And that’s why CIM ORT initiated this robotics tournament,” said CIM-ORT Coordinator of Educational Technological Innovation Yair Xolalpa. “It’s an innovative, intense, and fresh experience that raises the bar for national and international competitions. We look forward to many more in the years to come.”
The mix of physics, maths, engineering, programming and 3D design required for robotics make competitions such as CIM-ORT’s a vital contribution to preparing young people for 21st century careers.
Take into account how the subject also exercises the children’s creativity, problem solving, critical and analytical thinking, ability to work in a team and self-discipline and you can make a good case that it’s indispensable.
Under the supervision of judges via camera, and with minimal help from their coaches, the online contest, which simulated the separation of garbage for recycling, was won by the ORT Technology Lyceum in Kishinev, Moldova.
But CIM-ORT demonstrated the prowess which it has acquired since joining the World ORT network in 2010, winning 14 individual and team prizes across the competition’s 12 categories.
Among the highlights was a 24-hour challenge: teams were tasked with building a functional vacuum cleaner from scratch, one capable not only of sucking up trash but taking it to an allocated place. That was won by a team from the Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Huixquilucan. Other categories featured combat robots, drones and line followers.
CIM-ORT’s success follows a year in which its teams filled cabinets with medals and trophies from a series of contests – sweeping up top places at six domestic competitions, taking a creditable fifth place at the international Robotraffic competition at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and finishing as the best Mexican team at the massive RoboGames in California.
“We know that the greatest advantage we can give our students is to help them discover their abilities – and to put them into practice,” Mr Xolalpa said.