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A pilot program featuring an inter-school robot coding competition involving Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board (KPRDSB) students in Cobourg will become part of a regular series of hands-on educational programming, thanks to generous funding from community sources.
The Rotary Club of Cobourg and Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) have invested in Venture13 Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre’s future STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) educational programming through the funding of LEGO Robot and Micro:bit kits used in Thursday’s competition by elementary students at Venture13.
The Venture13 Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre in Cobourg welcomed students from the two KPRDSB schools for the coding competition. All told, 55 Grade 8 students were engaged in a day of robot coding and competitions providing hands-on STEM learning outside of their regular classrooms.
Heidi McFadden, founder of Probot4Kids and 15-year-old coding student, led the students through an introductory coding session before forming them into groups. The students were tasked with preparing robots for two challenges: maze navigation and sumo wrestling.
Venture13 staff were introduced to the LEGO Robot and Micro:bit kits through a partnership with Jaime Nobes, Student Success Pathways Consultant: Experiential Learning for the KPRD School Board. With support from the Northumberland CFDC, the Town of Cobourg, Venture13 staff approached the Rotary Club of Cobourg for funding. Rotary has graciously agreed to pay for half of the expenses of acquiring new LEGO Robot and Micro:bit kits, with the Northumberland CFDC committed to matching the funds.
“CFDC’s mission through our partnership with Venture13 is to advance entrepreneurial development and help build the industries of the future,” said Wendy Curtis, Executive Director of the Northumberland CFDC, in a press release. “Through the investment in this program, we hope to inspire students to explore STEM-based learning through the development of interactive and innovative experiences.”
This initial inter-school coding competition pilot is one of several envisioned programs to engage youth with the fundamentals of coding, robotics, engineering, and entrepreneurship. Other possibilities include Coding Buddies (pairing high school students with younger students), Robot Business (connecting coding, robotics, and entrepreneurship), and a Robotics Library.
“The Rotary Club of Cobourg, is dedicated to serving the Cobourg community, providing funding to organizations and individuals, and launching projects the enhance the quality of life here in Cobourg,” said Rotary Club of Cobourg President Deborah Burgess. “In our 100th anniversary year, we hope that these LEGO Robot and Micro:bit kits provide new opportunities for this next generation of Cobourg leaders and entrepreneurs.”
The Town of Cobourg and Venture13 Innovation Centre thanked the Rotary Club of Cobourg, Northumberland CFDC and Jaime Nobes of the KPRDSB for their support and collaboration. The Venture13 Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre looks forward to implementing the LEGO Robot and Micro:bit kits into new youth coding programming in 2023.
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