This competition challenges young people to develop a robot using materials used daily in their own environment or low-cost materials. It includes interactive workshops with volunteer instructors.
EDUCATIONAL LEVEL (age)
ANALYSIS OF INNOVATION
1. PROBLEM THAT THE INNOVATION TRIES TO SOLVE
Not understanding the importance of scientific knowledge and research results in less support for children to follow their scientific dreams and for scientific research centres.
A lack of interaction with science and technology leads to a non-analytical, consumerist attitude, with no real comprehension. A lack of consciousness of basic physics leads to a low ability to diagnose and solve problems efficiently.
Added to this is the lack of support for education in the home and low-cost tools to stimulate creativity and work habits.
2. WHAT SOLUTION IS PROPOSED?
Bringing science into the lives of young Egyptians and providing them with a learning experience that develops their self-esteem, creativity, ingenuity and team work.
This is achieved by means of an automaton design competition that challenges groups of young people to design a robot that moves, using materials that are in everyday use in their homes or communities, or very low-cost store-bought items. In this way, all socio-economic strata can be included. The competition also requires no previous knowledge, which offers more opportunities for participation.
It therefore makes the creation of a robot, which is seen by society as being a sophisticated machine, more approachable and accessible.
Also, through the Robot Academy, young people are given an opportunity to increase their knowledge of science and their innovative abilities.
While most of the proposals of this kind come from young people aged between 18 and 25, CORD also pays attention to a younger age group. After an initial pilot test that included 80 children between the ages of eight and 12, it is working with the Ministry of Education and a large Egyptian citizen’s organisation to implement its plan in public schools. In this way, a robot creation curriculum will be implemented. The concept is to create “the best things out of nothing”.
3. HOW DOES THIS SOLUTION WORK?
It places the focus on construction or production experience based on training and learning that take the form of a game. Through the experience of the game, the competition or simply participation in a workshop the solution is to provide an experience of more effective learning.
The official competition involves volunteer instructors (CORDians) who train groups of young people in robotics (basic concepts) through interactive workshops that last three to five weeks. After this initial training (generally in groups of three), they build a robot with low-cost materials that they provide themselves.
The robots are built with the goal of their being able to cross the playground. All those who manage this receive a prize.
This gives young people confidence and the ability to work by themselves, taking on challenges with their own resources and developing creativity. All this is done through a well-planned study programme.
4. IMPACT INDICATORS AND RESULTS
The first CORD robot-building competition in 2007 – intended for engineering students – had 15 teams. The following year, the number increased to 300 teams from different situations and interests. In 2011, 1,000 teams entered, and this year the competition included 24 different centres all over the country.
The methodology has improved so that from 6% of competitors the first year, now 90% achieve their goal of moving their robot.
All the participants showed more interest in the subject and were able to tackle the robot construction activities. 80% of the competitors are formally and informally linked to the CORD organisation.
Now that the interest of the students in attending class and the number of female participants has increased, CORD is being set up in all the engineering institutes in the country.
In addition, it has succeeded in capturing the attention not only of engineering students but also other faculties, such as medicine.
Currently, up to 300 volunteers take part as instructors.
5. INNOVATION HIGHLIGHTS
- Production-based learning.
- Use of low-cost resources.
- Informative strategy.
- Effective motivation.
6. GEOGRAPHICAL AREA
CORD was initially implemented at a Cairo engineering campus. It expanded to campuses of different specialisations, camps and science events, as well as summer camps for kids and schools. It has been replicated around Egypt and Tunisia
7. INCOME MODEL
CORD collects funds through the sale of its products, which are very cheap compared with the competition.
They have received subsidies for social enterprises, which have made it possible to produce new products.