January 11 – 13 – Over three days, some 50 high school students tinkered with robots, built electric circuits and learned how to code basic computer applications in Ashesi’s computer labs. The experience, themed Robotech, formed part of a workshop orgranised by TechEra, a student-run initiative that was created primarily to extend IT-literacy across Ghana, particularly to low-income communities.
“The Robotech project is a module under TechEra that exposes high school students, especially those in technical institutions, to programming and electronics though robotic modules and Arduino programs,” explained Derick Omari, founder of the club.
The students, selected from the Accra Technical Training College (ATTC) and Presbyterian Senior Technical High School in Aburi, got a fresh look into Robotics, Electronics and Programming, allowing them to explore new areas of study outside their regular school curriculum.
“The experience was new and exciting: learning how to program a robot to do simple tasks was both challenging but fun,” said Prince Tetteh, third year student at ATTC. “Attending this workshop has helped me build some very important skills and knowledge that I can apply moving forward.”
Over the last three years, members of TechEra have made strides in introducing robotics, programming and basic Information Technology knowledge to schools across Ghana. To date the club has trained over 50 high school students in Berekuso to use computers and has also started a program to help train the visually impaired to use computers. As part of their work, the club has set up senior high school chapters, focused on building IT-literacy among high school students in the country.
“Technology is growing and changing at a fast rate, so early exposure for children has become increasingly necessary,” said Derick. “This project seeks to create that catalyst, by exposing the students to technological tools and skills that will help them partake fully in this technological world, and also expand their careers choices. We believe that exposing them to robotics and electronics will give the students the desire to apply technologies that could expand what their world view, helping to keep the continent at par with the rest of the world.”
The workshop was also used as an opportunity to train members of the high school chapters to help drive the mission in their various schools. Over the semester members of TechEra will work closely with high schools across the country facilitating robotics and programming clubs.
“The workshop was such a great experience for our students – they got the chance to actually work on many of the concepts they had learned theoretically in school,” said Arhin Issac, Physics Teacher at the Presbyterian Senior Technical High School. “Students struggle with grasping concepts when they only have a theoretical exposure to them. Even though the workshop was focused on robotics, electronics and programming, many concepts we work on in class came to life through the kits they used. This is an opportunity we should seek to give to our kids everyday.”