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Girls reach for the stars using modern robotics technology

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta commends Green Panthers team from Green Garden High School for an outstanding performance in the World First Robotics tournament in Texas State, US

The world of technology is changing fast and it is a matter of time before robots grab millions of jobs from the hands of human beings.

This was manifested during a global Lego league competition, which took place recently in the US.

The World First Robotics competition held annually is a global event  that celebrates science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) for students. This year the event was held from April 18 to 21 in Houston, Texas.

More than 33,000 teams drawn from the entire world had earlier participated  in the competition by showing their expertise in making robots. Ten gallant girls represented Kenya from Green Garden Schools.They were Lisa Kute, Faith Wambui, Marryian Cheptoo, Josphine Gitau, Glory Mburu, Rosemary Wairimu, Michelle Wangui, Kyra Muthoni, Eliza Gathoni and Leah Wambui. 

The school is located in Gikambura, Kikuyu sub-county of Kiambu county.  It is here that young ‘engineers’ make robots using miniature plastics. The bright, adventurous, creative, innovative and daring girls scooped the judges’ award on ground of using NXT Legos, which is an old Lego programme. (Lego is the art of joining items together to make equipment).

Their intention was to show the world that old is still gold by using uniqueness in using an old programme to comply with different robotic missions that they were given. Other teams used the newest EV3 programmes in the Lego world.

The Kenyan team, dubbed Green Panthers, were ranked 105 out of the 33,000 teams. They emerged best in Africa, which was represented by six countries—South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Morocco.

Brazil bagged position one for presenting the best-selling robot design and also position one for showcasing the best project research. Hosts US won the best core-value team award. The Kenyan heroines presented the best robot design, research project and core values, which made them, shine and thus win the judges’ hearts.

The director of the institution, Captain Keiyoro Mugo said they introduced robotic learning in the school with a view to opening the learners’ way of thinking. “This move has seen thousands of girls make breakthroughs in science subjects which are not liked by most female students in the country,” he said.

The school only admits science students.  Interestingly, those admitted are not the best in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) national exam but eventually end up joining the best local and international universities.

The 10 girls were recently invited to State House to present their robotic magics to the First Family. First Lady Margaret Kenyatta commended Green Garden Schools for an outstanding performance in the robotics tournament.

Speaking to the students and teachers when they paid her a courtesy call at State House, Nairobi, the First Lady applauded Green Panthers, saying their victory was not just for Kenya but also for the continent of Africa.

The team demonstrated to the First Lady their scientific innovative skills that enabled them to scoop a trophy in the US.  You have made us so proud, not just for Kenya but for Africa,” the First Lady said. She said education is not just excelling in academics but also nurturing students’ talents in various areas. “Keep up the hard work. It’s not academics alone but also what the child can do using their God-given talents,” said the First Lady.

The founders of the school, Peter Keiyoro and Esther Wangui Njenga Keiyoro said the school’s aim is to nurture children to discover their God-given talents, which they can utilise to empower themselves and also contribute to the nation’s economic growth.

Earlier, Green Panthers had won the Africa Lego league competition at Brookhouse School, Nairobi. They won after designing a robotic drainage system that transports waste into a septic tank before it filters urine into water fit for human consumption. Their project was declared the best-selling due to its simplicity thereby making it applicable in normal rural life.

The girls told the media that they based the project on solving the challenge of water contamination and thereby came up with an effective, efficient robotic drainage and water purification system in rural areas.

Their coach Pascal Muchangi explained that Lego league entails joining parts of a machine to make a robot before installing a mortar, which is used as the brain. Muchangi, who heads the Centre for ICT and Robotic Integration in learning and teaching at the facility, said that the girls won the African Lego league due to their creativity and love for science.

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