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Team Tonga returned from International robotics challenge

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 24/08/2018

Team Tonga at the FIRST Global Challenge, returned earlier this week after a successful participation at the international robotics challenge last week.

The team included 6 students and their Information and Communications Technology teacher from Tonga High School, and an IT specialist from the University of the South Pacific, Tonga Campus.

The team’s robot had been named by the Minister for Education and Training – as Tonga High ‘Ilo Fo’ou – or Tonga High Innovation.

The FIRST Global Challenge took place in Mexico City from the 16-18th of August.

The ICT teacher in the team – Pateli Vailea said this was the first time for Tonga to participate in an international robotics competition which was an opportunity for the team, particularly the students, to explore the field of robotics.

Vailea said “The students developed their skills day by day.

They have varieties of designs applied to their robot.

They have so many versions.

They can disassemble the robot and assemble it in just a few hours with any design that comes into their mind.

She said their preparation for the competition was not easy journey adding that “The students are rookies in the robotic fields. No prior experiences or knowledge of the tools and the resources in the robot kits. Not enough skills and experiences in Lego League either. No ideas what the tools are used for until we have to search it up online and reading documents from the organizer.”

However, Vailea said the team achieved an unexpected outcome at the competition with Team Tonga receiving “a total of 4030 cumulative points for 8 games, a total of 6 points for the ranking points in the winning category and totaling of all the points plus the awards, Team Tonga received a Certificate of Excellence for each member in team.”

Vailea added the team had learned valuable lessons in participating in the FIRST Global Challenge – such as the importance of “Cooperation, Collaboration and sharing of ideas among the students to solve global issues in the world.

Tonga team learnt to communicate in an international level and help other when needed and so as to ask for help if they need.

This was also an opportunity for the students, especially being rookies to this field, to expose them to the vast possibilities in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Vailea said, “If only these students have access to STEM fields or formally included in their curriculum in which they have to studied engineering together with others, it will be very easy for the student to keep up with this technological era.” and would also be a “Great chance to start investing in the younger generation for they are soon the future leaders of the world and solve the global issues such as Clean water, climate change, health, education, medicine, pollution, war and so forth.”

Tongan two-time Olympian, Pita Taufatofua was in attendance at the closing ceremony of the competition, where he delivered words of encouragement for over 1000 high school students representing from more than 100 nations, and this was a particularly motivational moment for Team Tonga.

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