Students across the province are taking advantage of a fun, hands-on program with robots that strengthens their math and science skills to prepare them for good jobs of the future. Labour and Advanced Education Minister Marilyn More today, Nov. 26, met with students, teachers and employers to announce the expansion of the Acadia University’s Robot Programming Competitions. The competitions are for young students interested in subjects like math and science and help them develop project management skills through the use of robots and unique hands-on learning. “We’ve never had such great opportunity before us here in Nova Scotia. In the past month alone the province announced close to 1,000 new jobs in the information technology, engineering and science fields,” said Ms. More. “These young students could fill these jobs, and this program gives them the training and skills they need to get started.” Employers such as Michelin, Royal Bank and Eastlink are key supporters of the program. “Our company’s strength is in innovation and development of our technical resources,” said Dennis Langille, senior project manager, Michelin Canada. “We’ve been proud supporters of First Lego League Robotics Competition at Acadia for the last ten years, as it allows middle school students to use science and innovation in a fun way. I know this will be the inspiration that will lead them to be our engineers and innovators at Michelin in the years ahead.” Over 300 students and 200 adult coaches, mentors and competition volunteers have participated each year since 2007. The province is investing an additional $250,000 to support the competitions for the next five years. “The language of robots is universal. All of my students, including those whose first language isn’t English are thriving in subjects like science and math because of the exciting way the learning is presented through the robots,” said Shelly Tulloch, a teacher at Bedford South School who has used the robots in the school with success. “It’s amazing to watch students get excited about learning basic curriculum in these important subjects.” The junior high teams must design and program the robot to perform a series of challenging missions in two minutes and 30 seconds that involves sensing and moving objects while avoiding obstacles. The high school teams are faced with advanced tasks such as maze negotiation and object removal that must be completed in three to four minutes. “These competitions are a fun way for young people to build their confidence while learning new skills,” said Danny Silver, founder of the Robots Programming Competitions at Acadia University. “Every student who graduates from high school should have a basic understanding of how digital technology and computer programs work, at least at the same level as their education in physics, chemistry and biology.” Young people in the province are thriving in these competitions. In 2012, Nova Scotia students competed internationally in the North American Open Championship at LEGOland in California and were awarded first prize for the Robot Technical Design. Students from team Les Vipères, from Centre scolaire de la Rive-Sud, Cookville, Lunenburg Co, were challenged to research food safety issues as part of this program, and are now seeking a provisional patent for robotically assisted delivery and storage for locally produced farm goods. These students are between the ages of nine and 14. “My experience with the robotics program has helped me decide that I want to be an engineer when I grow up, said Keigan Tulloch, a 12-year old student at Bedford South School. “The skills I’m developing through working with the robot help me better understand real world problems and my friends and I have been able to come up with some pretty neat solutions through our challenge projects. “I am a problem solver and I don’t need to be an adult to start using that skill to help me succeed. We are learning skills that are helping us today and in the future.” For more information about the program, visit robots.acadiau.ca .