Education
JM | Aug 5, 2022

IGT brings ‘new levels’ of knowledge for 2022 summer coding & robotics camp

/ Our Today

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Young Kerry White* from the Mustard Seed Communities – Jerusalem! Children’s Home in Spanish Town, St. Catherine codes her way to developing her first website. She is among several Caribbean youth from Antigua, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis and Trinidad & Tobago participating in the Level Two training of the IGT Coding and robotics Rock! Camp this July. The tech camp is fully sponsored by International Game Technology (IGT) through its After School Advantage (ASA) Programme and features Levels One and Two courses for 2022. Mona Geoinformatics Institute (MGI) at the University of the West Indies, Mona is the enlisted training partner being guided in curriculum development by Education Specialist, Nalini Ramsawak-Jodha from the UWI, St. Augustine Campus. (*Name changed for ward. Photo contributed)

Youth participants recently wrapped up the Level II intermediate course of IGT’s Coding and Robotics Rock! Camp and anticipation is high for the incoming students of its Level I introductory course in a few weeks. 

IGT established the regional virtual learning camp in 2021 with an introductory offering through its After School Advantage (ASA) centres in Barbados, Jamaica, St Kitts & Nevis, and Trinidad & Tobago. 

For 2022, this number was increased to include Antigua as the newest participating country.

Brendan Hames, IGT’s regional director for the Caribbean, said the project had grown tremendously since its inception.

“We’re pleased to renew this vital exercise and to see many of the young participants from the initial cohort move into new areas of knowledge and digital skill,” he said.

“We’re sure the new group starting the introductory course in August will finish with an even greater appetite for the next level of the course,” Hames explained further.

Dr Ava Maxam, acting executive director of Mona Geoinformatics Institute (MGI) at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona campus, said the institute was positive that the Level II intermediate training had helped to instil in the youngsters an appreciation of the potential for them to launch careers in the coding and robotics fields. 

“We have been able to provide the students with a strong sense of the opportunities that are now available given the evolution of the technology,” she commented. “And we know this will be an inspiration for them.” 

IGT After School Advantage (ASA) beneficiaries from the Sunbeam Children’s Home in Old Harbour, St. Catherine in Jamaica (seated) were accommodated on site at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona by the Mona Geoinformatics Institute (MGI) for the opening day of the 2022 IGT Coding and Robotics Rock! Camp on July 20. The youngsters are a part of the Level Two cohort of participants, joining other youth from Antigua, Barbados, St. Kitts & Nevis and Trinidad & Tobago in this year’s camp. The initiative is sponsored by IGT, which has recruited MGI to deliver the virtual training to youths from IGT ASA Centres within the region. The camp, which is being delivered across Levels Two and One, is slated to end on August 26 with the virtual closing ceremony for Level One students. Standing (from left) are Juan Pablo Chadid, Regional Vice President of IGT Latin America and the Caribbean; Brendan Hames, Regional Director of IGT Caribbean; Kevin Johnson, Coordinator and Lead Tutor of MGI; Jordan Earle, Technical Support, MGI and Debbie Green, General Manager, IGT Jamaica. (Photo contributed)

Education Specialist Nalini Ramsawak-Jodha from the UWI St Augustine campus who provided curriculum development guidance to the MGI team, noted that the right mix of fun and learning were factored into the curriculum design to engage the students in the discussion and action pertaining to regional growth and sustainability in accordance with the camp’s theme, ‘Youth coding for a sustainable Caribbean.’

“This year’s course design was carefully structured to meet the objective of the programme and cater to all of the participants of varying learning styles and interests.  The theme of regional sustainability being linked to coding and robotics is a very broad topic. We had to ensure that the lessons were in friendly bite sizes that would make the students eager to learn and actively engage in all aspects of the training,” she related.

While incorporating the HTML, CSS and JavaScript tools of the Level I course, the Level II course, offered in two modules, took the students into more complex web development and design functions, and also provided them with an introduction to artificial intelligence (AI), encompassing a brief history of the technology and moving into several of the more widespread current applications, including voice, speech recognition and autonomous vehicles.

Students were required to complete one written exam and a practical assessment for each of the modules. Among the test areas were basic terms in artificial intelligence (AI); real-world applications of AI; and applications of AI in the electronics industry.

In the practical assessment, students were required to create a website; to introduce themselves and/or their interest area on the page; to break down the various sections of the website and create a webpage for one or more of each of the categories in the previous page created.

A group project focussing on cross-cultural website development was also assigned and assessed (historical sites, sports venues, etc) as well as a CSS-centred exercise.

Youth at the Sunbeam Children’s Home in Old Harbour, St. Catherine, Jamaica are actively engaged on day four of the Level Two training session for the IGT Coding and Robotics Rock! Camp. The camp, which is being held in July and August, is an initiative of the global tech firm, International Game Technology (IGT) through its After School Advantage (ASA) Programme which aims to bridge the digital divide among the region’s youth. The virtual training is being delivered by the team at Mona Geoinformatics Institute (MGI) at the University of the West Indies, Mona who enlisted the support of UWI, St. Augustine’s Education Specialist, Nalini Ramsawak-Jodha for curriculum development guidance. Participants in the IGT Coding and Robotics Rock! Camp are from IGT ASA Centres in Antigua, Barbados, St. Kitts & Nevis, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo contributed)

IGT, through its ASA Programme, has consistently played a leading role in increasing access to technology and internet connectivity for youth in underserved communities.

Since 2011, IGT and its subsidiaries have opened some 39 ASA computer labs across the English-speaking Caribbean. Through this and other initiatives, IGT aims to continually enhance the technological awareness of students and thus prepare them to contribute to the social and infrastructural development of the Caribbean.

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