Editorial for 8 June: Robotics champions

 It is a strange thing, but we often find in many societies
around the world that public praise for academic or creative achievement by
school children is rare – while those same societies are all too ready to
praise the talented athletes among them.

This is not to say outstanding athletic achievement is not
worthy of praise. It does and should make the Cayman Islands proud to see its
athletes do well. However, these folks often get space in the pages of the
Caymanian Compass telling of their accomplishments.

Today we would like to praise the robot builders.
Specifically, the five robotics club members from Cayman Prep High School that
have used their Lego-robots to build an international success story. 

The team from years 7 and 8 of Cayman Prep High School won
the West Coast Florida Regional First Lego League Tournament in Tampa on 5
February. They also went on to win the Florida State Championship.

They have since been awarded the Joanna Clarke Excellence in
Education Award.

So, good for the boys, but what’s the use of building
Lego-robots, the reader might ask?

Robotics is part of the curriculum at Cayman Prep using the
LEGO NXT programmable brick system and accessory sensors. The school programme
got a boost in June 2010 when it sponsored an ICT teacher in completing five
days of training at the National Robotics Engineering Centre in Pittsburgh,

The centre is part of the Carnegie Mellon University
Robotics Institute. During her training course, teacher Allison Smith was
surrounded by real-world research and commercialisation education and
introduced to the Lego robots and NXT-G programme as a part of a Science,
Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum. Some of that training has found
its way into the prep school curriculum.

Robotics is an essential component in modern manufacturing
operations. Factories and companies are increasingly using robots and jobs
growth related to robotics has steadily risen since the 1980s. So, this is not
just about winning a competition. It’s about learning and progressing in life
after winning.