Early youth education in robotics one of the brightest futuristic industries

By Lily O. Ramos

MANILA, Feb.1 (PNA)–Philippine education now must focus on industrial manufacturing, business and invention since agriculture in the countryside is being slowly swallowed by mushrooming subdivisions full of residential and vacation houses, business firms, golf courses and leisure parks instead of rows of palay and life-producing and sustaining crops and fruits for the burgeoning population.

This is how Dr. Lorna Dino, Department of Education (DepEd) Assistant Secretary for Programs and Projects recently described the future’s challenging and worthwhile undertaking during the show of Philippine robotics at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan in Pasig City where elementary, secondary and collegiate kids from age eight to 16 displayed their varied robots with different functions.

While looking over the robots made up of Lego materials costing around P48,000 that were carefully planned, crafted, assembled, tested and completely functional before actually being showcased, Dr. Dino declared that definitely, we should direct or redirect the energy of our youths into more worthwhile undertakings.

”Instead of letting children go along with long hours of playing Dota, Angry Birds, Tsunami, Candy Crash, Basketball, Fantasies, etc., why not give them something more challenging like inventing useful equipment, design project, functional machines that shorten the time of performing a task or increasing intelligence?

Dino added, ”It’s good to start with our young ones with robotics and grow with them. Right now, you could see the impressive products and their applications created mostly by the youth sector. Perhaps a little prodding from scientists, engineers, designers and digital improvement could produce the desired effect we all want.”

On the other hand, Mylene Abiva, president and chief operating officer of the national organizer of Philippine Robotic Olympiad that has sent winning Filipino entries to different World Robotic Olympiad in different countries for at least 10 years, said robotics will become one of the most interesting and sought after industries in the not so distant future.

”In Sydney, I saw robots serving coffee through voice control in one of the restaurants because human labor is expensive. In Japan, those who do not want to take care of pets that need food, shampoo, medicine, injection, grooming, heath, etc., have opted to buy robot dogs that can bark, roll and play like live doggies.

”In other parts of the world, there are robots that help during repair, remedial or rehabilitation operation as well as forming simple exercise motion through voice control. I’m not yet sure if there’s one who can cook like a human kitchen chef but for sure, there are other functional robots in science undertaking medical projects,” Abiva said.

Even Golden Arches Development Corporation of Ronald MCDonald House of Charities executive director Marie A. Angeles said time may not be too distant when we would see a robot serving meals to its millions of clients worldwide.

”That’s the price of ever-increasing knowledge here on earth and sustained interest on things that should uplift life even beyond our planet. What matters is we human beings should be inventing machines or cutting edge equipment for the good of the majority, “ Angeles said.

”I am truly happy that robotics has come of age here in the Philippines, especially in schools or institutions of early learning when the ability to think, imagine and create is so close at its highest stage. With the use of computers, high definition and digital pictures, we see colorful machines that the older generation would have thought impossible during their time.

“Remember, we Filipinos are a very talented race. A Filipino designed the moon buggy during the early American space exploration and if I’m not mistaken, a Filipino had a hand in doing the Mars Rover.”

McDonald’s is a consistent supporter of education projects initiated by DepEd, including some vital scientific researches on youth care and welfare.

Truly, the 21st century is for the very young and yet computer literate kids who are not only curious but smart and intelligent to see and utilize the big potential of being wired to the world through computers, as well as inventions worth looking into by the government and the private sector as prototype of what they can improve on or recreate for the earth and its inhabitants, Angeles added.

Both Dino and Abiva are thrilled that more and more young girls are into robotics in terms of Information Technology, Communication Arts, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine and the Natural Healing Arts.

Michael Yanga of the Dr. Yanga’s Colleges, Inc. based in Bocaue, Bulacan agreed with the ladies, saying that in 2008, when his school started choosing bright/intelligent students to join robotics projects, only one or two girls expressed keen interest.

”Now, more than 40 percent of the participants are little, smart, brainy girls interested in enrolling in engineering, medicine or IT once they get to college. I hope one of the girls would design something for the National Aeronautics and Science Administration (NASA) or join space travels someday,” Yanga said.

Yanga, Dino and Abiva are agreed that while government may not have enough funding for scientific research on robotics and inventions for safer environment and balanced climate change, easier and faster labor to encourage stronger family bonding and additional leisure time, there are some alternatives available that could be cultivated.

Private schools are doing their share by fully supporting their fellow budding public school scientists and encouraging them to produce novel ideas and donating equipment that may not be needed by the donors.

There are also consortia or cooperatives between public and private education sectors that result into build, operate and transfer later, the trio said.

Most of the children’s current inventions are being offered to businesses, financial institutions and individuals who are willing to contribute money, time, and effort to translate them into reality through further research and product improvement, adequate funding and action for mass production of approved projects, they stressed.(PNA)