Jamaican high school students to show off skills in robotics competition

State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Alando Terrelonge (left), operates a robot built by members of the Dunoon Park Technical High School robotics team. Looking on are DeAndre Facey (centre) and Daniel Nesbeth of the Dunoon Park Technical High robotics team.

Students from approximately 30 secondary schools across the island will show off their innovations in robotics and vie for attractive prizes in the second staging of the ‘For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Tech Challenge’.

The competition, organised by United States-based, not-for-profit entity, FIRST, was launched on Thursday (February 13) at the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Sports Club in St Andrew.

“The robotics competition is good because they are putting theory into practice in terms of what they have learned in school.”

— Terrelonge

The objective is to encourage students to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related fields, inspire them to become leaders and innovators and enhance their 21st-century work-life skills.

Represent Jamaica

State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Alando Terrelonge, in his remarks at the launch, lauded the organisers for nurturing innovation among the country’s youth.  

“There can be no future, no growth, no prosperity without ensuring that the youth of Jamaica are empowered and educated in the STEM-related fields. The robotics competition is good because they are putting theory into practice in terms of what they have learned in school. It provides a more practical approach to learning these subjects because they are developing robots,” he said.

Tournament Director, Gavin Samuels, said that the focus of this year’s competition has been expanded to include more schools from rural areas and greater female participation.

The FIRST Tech Challenge will be held from February 28 to 29 at the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium, Jamaica College, in St Andrew. The winning team will represent Jamaica at the FIRST World Championships to be held from April 15 to 18 in Houston, Texas, while the second-place team will compete in the Maryland Tech Invitational from June 19 to 21.