The Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE) says its boot camp to train children in robotics has been largely successful.
The four-day camp was organized in partnership with the Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation (GRAF).
“It was an intense and exciting boot camp for students between the ages of 12 to 18 -one of the greatest exposition in robotics to kids in that category the nation has ever undertaken. 18 kids participated,” a statement from the organisers indicated.
Students were introduced to the science of robotics and how they apply to solving real life problems found around us. The contribution of the great work that scientists of the likes of what Dr Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu is doing with NASA in the US was also shared.
The robots deployed during the boot camp are the LEGO Mindstorms NXT. Kids were made to find the connection between the theories they have been working with n their school work and real life situations. The design and building/construction of robots was also treated as a principal part of the boot camp – assembling by joining different pieces of Lego beams, pins, and gears… similar to the common lego pieces, but without the studs.
At the end of several lessons, students presented problems that are typical to our environment and then designed and built prototypes of robots to solve them..
The Counting Robot, which is able to count objects, like boxes moving on a conveyor belt -designed to solve the problem of monitoring the amount of goods entering or leaving a warehouse, store or factory, without the errors human counting would produce.
The Fufu Pounding Robot – It was built to automate the labour intensive and time consuming process of pounding fufu while creating the opportunity of serving this Ghanaian delicacy on a large scale,like in
a big hotel or at a gathering,funerals perhaps.
The Line Following Robot – Multipurpose robot as it basically follows a line drawn on the ground. This can be applied in factories to automatically transport products and tools; in hospitals, to move patients in wheelchairs and transport medical supplies; in airports and habours, to transport cargo automatically among many others.
The Play Robot – Designed for entertainment purposes, proving robots could also serve that ‘task’ of entertaining. What was designed and built was … won’t say it is a perfect soccer robot but quite close. Its job is simple – When you ‘see’ a ball, kick it. Two of such could compete in a soccer match and score goals serendipitously.
These projects gave the participants a good overview of developing robots. These skills, we hope, would ignite a lifelong passion in robotics when appreciably developed , to solve our unique problems in our part of the world and give Ghana a share in the global robotics trade valued at $5.7 billion while reducing unemployment with the 6,000 job opportunities for roboticists posted in May 2012 alone.
From: Samuel Amoako-Frimpong and Dr Yaw Okraku-Yirenkyi