Robotics can forge friendships across borders and make teenagers choose a career in STEM. A new documentary, premiering during the World Robot Olympiad in Hungary in November, reveals why kids fall in love with coding and robotics.
Robotics is not just the stuff of sci-fi movies anymore, but something every child can – and should – learn to develop skills that employers are already prizing. That is the mission of World Robot Olympiad™: to introduce STEM through fun robotics competitions and connecting thousands of children and youth regardless of their nationality and background. A new documentary – ME & MY ROBOT – follows several WRO® teams to show how robotics impact the way kids see and interact with the world around them. The documentary premieres November 8 during the international final in Hungary, and will be part of a campaign to inspire students to explore their interest in STEM.
New friend, bonus family and first place
Fabian and Adib are two of the kids featured in the documentary. The story of how they became a team is remarkable. In 2016, Adib moved from Syria to Germany with his family, because the situation in Edlib had become too dangerous. His plan was to continue with robotics in Germany, maybe to forget about the war and leaving home. To find a partner, Adib looked for participants in robotic competitions and came across Fabian, who appeared to be the only other teenager in the state working with robotics in their age group. By a stroke of luck Fabian went to a school in Halle, Adib’s new home town.
They met, and despite the fact they didn’t share a language, they talked 2-3 hours about building better algorithms and robots. The first year they communicated in English. The second year Adib was fluent in German and they won 1st place in the German national WRO final. Adib says:
“The main reason I speak German is because of Fabian’s parents. I went climbing, swimming, and skiing with the family. They showed me how cool Germany is and have helped me a lot with practical things. They still do.”
‘Where else could this happen’
Last year at the international WRO final in Thailand, Adib and Fabian talked to the Russian team. They communicated through Google translate, exchanged email and are still developing algorithms together. Adib says:
“They build algorithms on top of ours, which is extra cool. Where else could this happen: Syrians, Germans and Russians coding together? This kind of experience can’t be taught at university or on your own. You have to exchange ideas and learn from other experienced people.”
Adib’s and Fabian’s passion for robotics and LEGO have been passed on to their younger brothers, who now participate in WRO. Word of mouth is one way to acquaint more kids with STEM. Another is collaboration between NGOs, companies, governments and universities who want to help foster the engineers and inventors of tomorrow. Like the international WRO final in November which is hosted by the Hungarian government and Edutus University – and ME & MY ROBOT, which is presented by Juniper Networks and executive producer James Redford.