A total of 104 learners from Sefika Primary School in Molapo, Soweto, attended the Coding and Robotics Innovation Camp on 12 April 2019 at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg, which was made possible by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.
Innovation Camps are Junior Achievement’s (JA) experiential programmes that build technical (coding and engineering) and soft skills (creativity, design thinking, teamwork and problem solving) of young learners.
Working in teams supported by VJ Robotics, as well as an amazing team of volunteers and JASA alumni, learners had to build a prototype that will help them survive on Mars and have at least one moving part. Their creative flair particularly stood out as they collaborated to complement each other’s prototypes and convince the judges on the best solution.
Learners had the opportunity to foster an understanding of the world of business and a spirit of entrepreneurship through the principle of ‘Learning by Doing’. They were able to develop their interpersonal as well as problem-solving skills and learnt to work under tight deadlines, as they would in a work environment.
Elizabeth Bintliff, CEO of JA in Africa, came to support the event and said learning by doing is a central tenet of JA’s approach.
“This is especially critical in Africa where young people are often taught how things are made rather than how to make things. We are truly grateful to Motorola Solutions Foundation for sponsoring this all-important initiative of empowering young people to make informed career choices,” she said.
“It is initiatives like these where learners are taken away from their normal learning environment and challenged to do things differently that really bring about the best learnings,” said Francinah Raseroka, Gauteng Department of Education – Johannesburg Central District.
Learners who participated in the interactive Innovation Camp added that it is such a great opportunity for learners from township schools as they are really not that exposed to such.
“I am very happy that I got the opportunity to be part of such a great programme. I was not aware that we came to do such a productive project and that there is also a prize!” said one of the learners who was part of the winning team.
Bagcinile Kwinda, a JASA Alumni who volunteered, said that she was over the moon to get involved.
“I know JASA from KZN long time ago, and couldn’t miss the opportunity to volunteer as I the skills learnt are invaluable. It is an inspiration to help learners see and experience more beyond what they know,” says Kwinda.