Three years ago when STEMGuyana co-founder, Karen Abrams sought out Guyana’s First Lady Sandra Granger’s support for a summer robotics camp in Guyana, she had no idea that just two short years later, the program would captivate the imagination of Guyana’s youth and be accepted by various government and private agencies as a component of their national programs.
Since that first summer camp in 2016 which was entirely funded by $16,000 USD in Diaspora donations, Abrams and her children, the STEMGuyana founding team, trained club leaders who were then given the robots to carry on the program in their various communities. Guyana’s first robotics exhibition launched at the Sports Hall in June 2017 proving that the founding team had made the right investment. All of the existing club leaders had continued the program and trained more youth across Guyana.
STEMGuyana also recruited and trained youth teams to participate in two First Global Robotics competitions in Washington DC in 2017 and Mexico City in 2018. The youth team in 2017 placed 10th out of 180 teams in the world in their first global competitive engagement and kicked off nationwide pride and excitement, which served to motivate youth all across Guyana to join or create local STEM programs. Participation was sponsored by the Ministry of Education, GTT, Ministry of Public Telecommunications, Ministry of Business and Ministry of the Presidency.
Today, STEMGuyana has a trained “Dream Team” of young ‘techies’ who are part of a certified club leader training program. They have worked with the First Lady’s ICT program training youth in more than 20 locations across Guyana. They have also trained and certified more than 150 STEM club coaches, many of whom have started their own programs or intend to start their own clubs across Guyana.
Recently, STEMGuyana, and the Department Of Youth, led by Director Mellissa Carmichael signed an MOU to rollout a nationwide program to expose early school leavers to technology education, while working to strengthen their numeracy and literacy skills. More than 40 Department of Youth coaches have been trained and deployment will begin in January 2019. The program is co-sponsored by Ministry of Public Telecommunications.
STEMGuyana and the National Library System led by Chief Librarian Ms Emiley King, have worked together to introduce a national “Reading & Robotics” program to the two libraries at Bagotville and National. More than 10 additional libraries are on the schedule for December 2018 and January 2019 rollout. The “Reading & Robotics” program has been sponsored by Exxon Mobile, Power Producers & Distributors, Troy Resources & Noble House Seafoods.
Several private schools will also join the national robotics competitive league in 2019 and to ensure public school participation, STEMGuyana intends to work with corporate partners to purchase equipment and provide training for 20 public primary and secondary schools. While the Ministry of Education has announced their intention to introduce robotics to primary schools in 2019, STEMGuyana’s program will launch programs in 20 schools in January 2019. These schools will join the MOE’s program when it goes live. The list of schools identified are listed at the following link; click here.
All of STEMGuyana’s club partners have agreed to participate in the 2019 national robotics competition which will serve as the pre-qualifier for participation in two international robotics championships. Outstanding young people 16yrs and older will participate in the First Global Robotics Competition scheduled for August 2019, while those in the 7 – 12 years, 13 – 16 years and open categories will participate in the International Youth Robotics Competition to be held in November 2019.
“I will paraphrase a St Roses classmate who said, the STEMGuyana program should be the cornerstone of flagship national technology skills development in Guyana. We need a generation in charge of Guyana’s advancing wealth and resources who are comfortable thinking abstractly, working with data and building their own intelligent solutions or else we’ll be gearing up for perpetual servitude”, said Abrams. “Our mission is truly a public, private, local, diaspora and regional mission to recruit a village to help create a program to prepare the children of Guyana for the future”