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First Global 2019 Press Release

TEAM BERMUDA PARTICIPATIONG IN FIRST GLOBAL CHALLENGE ROBOTICS CHALLENGE

A team of local students is preparing to represent Bermuda at the third annual First Global robotics competition. Five students will battle it out Olympics-style against 186 other teams from around the world in Dubai next week October 24th – 27th.

This comes as “Dubai continues to cement its position as a global hub for young talent and creative minds, with its determination to employ technology across various sectors as part of its Fourth Industrial Revolution drive”, according to Crown Prince of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. HH Sheikh Hamdan also said that “the importance of the event stems from its focus on engaging young people in finding solutions for future challenges.”

A total of eight students from six senior schools have spent hundreds of hours after school and on weekends over the past two months designing, programming and building a robot from a standard kit made up of hundreds of individual parts that was sent to all competing teams. While the parts are all the same, it is up to each team to design their own robot from those parts, complete with their own special functions.

The design team, made of students from Berkeley Institute, CedarBridge Academy, Mount Saint Agnes, Saltus, Warwick Academy and Whitney Institute have been hosted and mentored by Coral Wells, Zär’a Cardell and Chloe Baron from Connectech Coding. They have also enlisted the help of Eric Totten, Malachi Butterfield, Zorico Gilbert, Harry Matthie, Damion Wilson and past participant Kameron Young.

The five-person team traveling to Dubai is made up of Ethan Sousa (Captain), Lucien Penacho (Spokesperson), Zari Easton (Media), Jake Roberts and Ethan Fox. Other design team members are Tamara Dean, Kieran Rush and Priel Minors.

Captain Ethan Sousa shared that “This has been a lot of work but we are really happy with our robot, which we have named ‘Why is it so heavy?’ and are now focused on ensuring each team member is confident in their role for the competition. The next few days will be spent practicing and fine-tuning our robot’s capabilities.”

Team Bermuda Spokesperson Lucien Penacho added “We are really excited for the opportunity to travel to and explore Dubai and to meet with students from all over the world. We want to thank our mentors and sponsors for making this happen.”

The common goal of the First Global Challenge is aimed at students between 14 and 18 years of age and still in High School, to increase their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics which is fast becoming part and parcel of the forward-looking school curriculum. The Challenge aims to address the world’s most critical environmental issues such as wastage of water and energy, sustainability and pollution through a global robotics competition.

Every year millions of tons of pollutants, generated by human activity, make their way into the world’s oceans, negatively affecting marine life and global populations. The 2019 FIRST Global Challenge brings attention to this critical issue in order to educate ourselves and take action to preserve our oceans and wildlife. This year teams will learn about real-world challenges related to cleaning up the world’s oceans.

In Ocean Opportunities, two competing alliances, each comprised of three teams from different nations, work to clear the ocean of pollutants. Cleanup Crews have two (2) minutes and thirty (30) seconds to collect pollutants, deliver them to processing areas, and finally remove their robots, also known as collectors, from the ocean.

There are multiple ways to collect and process the pollutants, in this case different sized plastic balls, each earning the team different point totals. Teams must work with other countries on each challenge with the team earning the most points winning the competition.

Sponsors for Team Bermuda include the Government of Dubai, Emirates Airline, Butterfield Bank, Fireminds, One Comm, Redlaser, Connectech and Validus. Additionally, Connectech has donated space, countless hours of technical and logistics support and will be sending the two chaperones, Coral Wells and Zär’a Cardell, with the team.

Mrs. Wells noted that, “It has been a grueling but exciting few months watching this group of young people from all over the island come together as a team and create a robot capable of completing the FIRST Global Challenge. Connectech Coding is pleased to organize and lead this year’s efforts as it is completely in line with our goal of being a catalyst for all kids to develop logic, analytical thinking, and creative reasoning in a fun and interactive environment. We look forward to growing the robotics activities at Connectech Coding to prepare more students for next year’s opportunity”

Follow our progress via our social media channels – Instagram @TEAMBDA_FGC and Facebook @FIRSTGlobalBDA

CONTACT DETAILS:

Coral Wells
CEO and Founder
W&W Solutions Ltd/CONNECTECH
1-441-704-3677 or 441-400-3679
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School Coding Programme To Continue

A successful coding programme, which has introduced hundreds of public primary school students on the Island to the basics of computer programming, has now launched for the 2019/ 2020 academic year, thanks to renewed sponsorship from Hamilton Insurance Group [Hamilton].

The joint initiative, which was launched by ConnectTech and Hamilton in January 2018, has already taught the basics of coding to P5 and P6 students from 18 primary schools across the Island. Last year alone, 314 students were introduced to computer sciences, while in total more than 600 young people have benefitted from the scheme.

 Kelly Ferris, VP, Corporate and Marketing Communications at Hamilton Insurance Group, Minister of Education Diallo Rabain and ConnecTech CEO Coral Wells, along with students and leadership staff from East End Primary.

Pina Albo, Hamilton’s Group CEO, said it was an easy choice to decide to renew sponsorship for the public primary school coding programme for another academic year. “Hamilton’s mission – ‘We’re writing the future of risk’ – is grounded in our commitment to data science and technology as the critical tools of change in our industry. In that regard, we need data savvy employees to achieve that mission. That’s why it’s important for us to invest in the digital literacy of Bermuda’s young people. They’re our future employee base.

“So it’s been an absolute joy to partner with ConnecTech and to see important computational skills taught to young people in the public schools. I look forward to seeing how Hamilton’s involvement with this worthy initiative shapes the lives of scores of Bermudian children and how it will advance youth digital literacy for the island of Bermuda.”

Kelly Ferris, with students from East End Primary, as well as Coding Instuctor Z’ara Cardell and Coral Wells

Coral Wells, the CEO and Founder of ConnecTech, said: “It’s been extremely rewarding to partner with Hamilton Insurance Group over the past 21 months to see these public primary school coding classes brought to life. Many of the students in our programme have developed greater cognitive and problem solving skills and the ability to think outside the box.

“We’ve seen several young people display a strong interest in technology and go on to study at ConnecTech’s after school and summer programmes. A few children have even indicated to us that they wish to become computer programmers or software engineers when they grow up, which bodes well for Bermuda’s future.

“Overall, it means our country will have a more technologically literate population and that our young people will stand a greater chance at success when it comes to competing with the rest of the world for jobs and other opportunities.”

Kelly Ferris with students from East End Primary

The 2019/ 2020 coding classes began on Monday, September 16, with up to 20 students from each public primary school enrolled in the programme.

Similar to last year, young people will be taught in an interactive educational environment and will learn how to make simple computer games and apps. By the end of the school year, they are expected to have all the tools and skills necessary to create their own digital map of Bermuda highlighting local sights and attractions.

They will be asked to complete a final assignment, which encourages them to discover more about Bermuda’s geography and history, as they learn to incorporate digital design features such as labelling, color-coding, photos and music to their projects. For more information on the programme, visit hamiltongroup.com.

Source Bernews

Cracking the code

Chloe Baron attended Le Wagon, a coding boot camp in Montreal, Canada, last year (Photograph supplied).

The tech industry around the world is brimming with men. However, Chloe Baron hopes to change that.

The 28-year-old junior software developer and instructor at ConnecTech has spent the past six months teaching hundreds of Primary 5 and Primary 6 students within the island’s public schools the basics of coding and computer programming.

The initiative, sponsored by Hamilton Insurance Group, aims to boost youth digital literacy in Bermuda and teach young people skills necessary to compete in the global workforce.

“It’s a hugely humbling experience teaching young people, especially girls, because you realise you have a direct impact on whether that early love for technology is sparked or not,” Ms Baron said.

“I’m very aware of how I speak to the students and make sure to encourage them and answer any questions they may have.

“Sometimes it’s hard to get them engaged with tech. It can feel overwhelming to them because we are introducing basic IT concepts and terms they may not be familiar with, but when they get it, it’s exciting to see that light go on. They become so proud of themselves.”

Ms Baron hopes to be an example to other girls and women in Bermuda’s technology space. She counts it a privilege to work under Coral Wells, the CEO and founder of ConnecTech, who has charted a course for other females in the computer science field.

“ConnecTech has made a conscious effort to inspire girls to get into IT,” she said.

“We really want them to be able to hold their own in tech circles and not get discouraged because it can be difficult to be a female in a male-dominated space.

“Thankfully, it’s becoming more common to see women in IT and the men I do know in this industry are great supporters of us as well.

“I want women to persist, not back down, and to know they are capable of absolutely anything they put their mind to.”

Ms Baron was not always sure how to turn her interest in computer science into a viable career. As a student at MSA, her teacher suggested she pursue an IT-related degree at university in Canada.

Because she doubted her abilities, she studied psychology and fine arts at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in anthropology.

“Waterloo is actually a really tech-based school, almost like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of Canada. Stephen Hawking was a guest on our campus while I was there,” she said.

“I ended up spending a lot of time in the math building around people studying computer science. I never really thought that was a career path I could take but began to see it as a possibility.”

After returning to the island in late 2014, Ms Baron joined the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences team as university programmes assistant.

Working under the education director, she helped to co-ordinate internships which provided international students with access to some of the latest marine-based technology.

“I wasn’t aware there were internships like that while in university,” she said.

“Some people who came down for the internships were mature students. It taught me that age shouldn’t be a deterrent to me pursuing a particular career.”

In April 2018, Ms Baron left her job to take part in Le Wagon’s nine-week intensive coding boot camp, based in Montreal. It helped her get up to date in all front-end web design techniques and back end database design.

Ms Baron found a position at ConnecTech soon after returning home in December.

She said watching young people use their imaginations and creativity was one of the biggest joys of teaching.

“Sometimes I will suggest something and the kids go back to their computers and find a totally different method of doing it, something I never thought of.

“At first they are nervous and unsure about how to create computer games and apps, but over time their confidence starts to really soar. They begin to think differently and become great problem solvers, which is really fulfilling to see.”

According to US statistics, around 25 per cent of computing jobs in America are held by women, even though they make up more than half the workforce.

 Source The Royal Gazette

Hundreds benefit from coding programme

ConnectTech’s public primary school coding programme, funded by Hamilton Insurance Group (“Hamilton”), concludes this month with a series of end of year showcases happening from Friday, June 7, 2019 to Thursday, June 20, 2019.

This year’s programme, which teaches basic coding skills to 314 students from 18 primary schools across the Island, is a component of Hamilton’s investment in youth digital literacy in Bermuda.

ConnecTech CEO and Founder Coral Wells has seen the classes help P5 and P6 students with their cognitive and problem solving skills, as well as facilitate creativity in young people who are encouraged to think outside the box.

Additionally, in part due to these classes, ConnecTech Instructors noticed an increase in their average ConnecTech test scores, up from 67.2% in December 2018 to 71% in April 2019.

Mrs. Wells said: “We are extremely pleased to see that the fundamental programming concepts we teach students are making a positive impact on their technical skills and computer literacy performance.

However, we are even more inspired to see our young people developing a love for technology and encouraged by those who plan to expand their knowledge of computer literacy skills even further. This skill set is necessary in order to compete in today’s global economy and will open up future career opportunities for them in Bermuda and beyond.”

“Partnering with ConnecTech to ensure Bermuda’s young people are developing confidence and competency in core digital media is extremely important to us,” said Hamilton CEO Pina Albo. “Now more than ever it is essential to keep up with new and emerging technologies. By sponsoring this programme, we know that Bermuda’s primary school students are being introduced to skills which will aid in their success in years to come.”

For their final project, young people enrolled in the classes were asked to demonstrate the coding skills they learned throughout the year by designing a map of Bermuda highlighting their favourite local attractions. The assignment encouraged them to discover more about Bermuda’s geography and history, as well as showcase digital design features including labelling, color-coding, photos and music.

These final projects will be unveiled at the upcoming end of year showcases, happening later this month.

 Several high achieving students have been identified within each primary school coding class, based on their grades, passion and overall understanding of programming. Those individuals will be offered a gift certificate to take additional courses and programmes offered at ConnecTech’s technology hub, located in the Sofia House on 48 Church Street in Hamilton.

In March, Mrs. Wells was invited by Hamilton to travel to London, England to teach two 45-minute beginner Python programming classes to middle school students at the Mulberry School for Girls from the Towers Hamlet School District. The girls were also given a tour of Hamilton at Lloyd’s’ offices as well as introductory presentations on various aspects of insurance by Hamilton employees.

“The girls were energetic and engaged during the tour and in the classes, which was amazing to see,” Mrs. Wells said. “We realised that our young people in Bermuda are on par with students their age in other parts in the world, which gives us great hope for the future.”

Source The Royal Gazette