Hundreds of kids, their parents and teachers participated in Day One of the three-day Olympiad, which also includes several other competitions and interactive exhibits for the future engineers and programmers.
Nola Garcia, CEO of the United States Alliance for Technological Literacy, is producing the STEM Tech Olympiad at the Miami Beach Convention Center for eMerge. In the BattleBots competition alone, 145 teams, most from the United States but also from Brazil, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Canada, are competing in the three-day double-elimination tournament, one of the highlights of the Olympiad. Participants range from age 10 through college students but most were in middle or high school, Garcia said.
The competition begins long before the robots get in the ring, which is enclosed in bullet-proof glass for safety reasons. Teams first have to build the robots, working together, using their creativity and engineering skills. “This teaches the whole environment — budgets, time constraints, team work, deadlines,” Garcia said. “It’s a microcosm of what they will get in the real world.”
And it’s a sport for the brain, added Roski. “We’ve had paraplegics who have built and driven robots with their chins.” That pi equation you learned in school — you use it here. “It makes math, science and physics make sense,” Roski said.
Paul Kynerd, coach of Miami Lakes Education Center’s robotics team, has 12 teams competing. They are all part of the Cambridge Engineering Program magnet program at the Miami-Dade public school. “They are all gifted engineers,” he said, rattling off all the prestigious universities the students are heading to.
Kynerd said for the first time, the school had more females than males interested in robotics in the incoming freshman class.