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Brains and Brilliance Fuel Battle of the Bots

Tuesday, February 27, 2024 11:00 AM | ACCESSWIRE via QuoteMedia

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Brains and Brilliance Fuel Battle of the Bots

NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / February 27, 2024 / Enbridge

Edmonton youths represent Canada at robotics ‘Olympics' in Singapore

One teen didn't think she was "brainy" enough for science. Another was insecure because he didn't know how to code when he joined the team.

But both found a place on a youth community robotics team based at the Telus World of Science-Edmonton (TWOSE), the local science center. And it's lucky they did; it's youths like these who will use STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to solve humanity's most complex problems-and change the world.

TWOSE launched its program eight years ago to fill the gap for students in Grades 7 through 12 whose schools in Edmonton, Alberta, didn't have robotics clubs. In spite of its humble beginnings, the team was selected to represent Canada at the FIRST® Global Robotics Challenge in Singapore from Oct. 7 to 10.

Competing at the international level "is something they never really thought was possible," says Jennifer Gemmell, a TWOSE staff scientist and robotics team lead.

The chance to attend the global competition only comes around every decade. In Canada, provinces take turns selecting the team that will represent the country at the international, Olympics-style event.

"It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Gemmell adds.

In Singapore, the TWOSE group collaboratively competed alongside teams from 192 countries and autonomous states, working together to complete tasks that required robotics and STEM skills to solve. This year's challenges centered on the theme of renewable, clean energy; participants were prompted to think creatively to reimagine the future of energy and envision more sustainable ways to power our planet.

At Enbridge, supporting the education of youth is one of the ways we empower the next generation to become STEM innovators. The ingenuity of youth will help build vibrant, sustainable communities and allow us to continue to develop clean, renewable energy sources.

We've supported FIRST® Robotics Canada teams and competitions in Ontario since 2013; since 2021, we've provided $210,000 in Fueling Futures grants to FIRST® Robotics in that province. This year, we also supported the youth robotics community with a $20,000 contribution to help cover the TWOSE team's participation at the global competition. As presenting sponsor for the team, we were proud to help showcase Canadian STEM innovation on the world stage.

TWOSE is using the momentum of its participation in Singapore to expand the robotics program. This fall, they launched two new teams-one for Grades 4 to 6, and another for Grades 7 to 9.

"We're trying to create a scaffolded experience where students can build their skills year after year," Gemmell explains. "This will prepare them to pursue whatever career they'd like in STEM."

To date, 100% of youth participants in TWOSE have entered STEM-related fields of study in post-secondary school, and 90% have chosen to pursue engineering or a subject related to the skills they developed while on the robotics team.

"It's amazing," Gemmell says. "The robotics team is using all of the same tools and skills needed to pursue robotics as a professional."

She adds: "These are transferable skills they're learning."

The life-changing STEM journey begins when students say "yes" to joining the TWOSE team, no matter their experience with science, coding, or robotics.

Remarks Gemmell: "If you give youth opportunities like this, they are more likely to pursue careers in STEM-because they'll have the confidence to believe they can do it."

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SOURCE: Enbridge

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