Botswana Students Learn Coding in Two Weeks, Turn Box Into Bot

FIRST Global - Team Botswana

Botswana Students Learn Coding in Two Weeks, Turn Box Into Bot

Monday, July 24, 2017

Kamogelo and Robin live in Ramotswa, a small village outside of Gaberone, the capital of Botswana.

This spring, in only two weeks, they taught themselves computer programming.

Their lofty goal? Take a 42-pound box filled with robot parts and turn it into a remote-controlled robot to compete against other teams from around the world.

FedEx donated delivery of the robot parts to over 150 countries participating in FIRST Global, the worlds’ first international robot olympics for high school students. Founded by prolific inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST Global seeks to inspire science education and cultural understanding among every nation in the world.

“When we first opened the box of parts we thought ‘How are we going to turn these bits and pieces into a robot?’ But we worked online with a team from Haiti, and they showed us that we could do it”, says Kamogelo.

A glance around the scene at FIRST Global is a feast for the eyes, as every conceivable flag is proudly brandished by every kind of human that walks our planet.

There’s an instantly famous all-girls team from Afghanistan, blind twins from Oman, smiling friends from South Sudan, singing teens from Israel. Team USA is stationed near the tiny nation of Vanuatu. Canada is just down the hall from Cuba, and Team Hope represents a group of Syrian refugee students.

Team Afghanistan FIRST Global

Teams from Afghanistan, Senegal, and Australia compete in a FIRST Global match.

The teams competed with each other in random alliances in a game designed around one of the world’s great engineering challenges: water scarcity and contamination.

Robin describes the scene upon arriving in the USA after 22 hours of travel. “As soon as we arrived we had some problems with our programming. But in the dorms we met a wonderful team from Kazakhstan. They helped us fix the robot, and now we are friends forever!”

Kamogelo and Robin are members of the only robotics team in Botswana, but they enthusiastically talk about their plans to go back home as ambassadors for science and education.

Kamogelo says, “Technology is everywhere. It’s like the microwave. We can’t wait to go back and show our families what is possible for our futures.”

Check out more about Team Botswana in the video below, courtesy of FIRST Global.

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