Recently, I got the opportunity to be a judge at the Nahani-Glenforest Lego Robotics Competition. This is a competition where groups of grade 1 and 3 students from Nahani Way Public School work with high school students from Glenforest Secondary School to build and program Lego robots to do specific tasks. For yours truly, this was an opportunity to give back to the community and inspire the next generation who will take up careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This was a high profile event as in attendance was Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie as well as Navdeep Bains who is the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development for the Government of Canada.
My task as a judge was to evaluate the quality of the code that the students wrote. I have to admit that I was amazed at what these students can do at such a young age. They were able to demonstrate that they could take a complex task, such as moving a robot across a floor and have it spell out the acronym STEM, or solve a mathematical equation and write code to move the robot across the floor to the right answer. Equally as amazing was the fact that the high school students who acted as mentors learned the skills to teach these grade 1-3 students how to program these robots and communicate what they have done to the judges, such as myself. On top of that, both parties quizzed the judges extensively about our careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as we represented an excellent cross section of those fields.
What became clear to me by the end of the night is that the students from Nahani Way Public School and Glenforest Secondary School are gaining skills not just in coding, but in leadership, communication, and working together. That’s simply outstanding as it will help this next generation become the leaders that this world needs for the challenges that it will face in the future. As well as having bright careers in the fields of STEM. I was grateful for the opportunity to participate in helping these future leaders take a step or two towards that future.