It was standing-room only as the Cayman Islands Robotics team showed off their robot, Kraken, to STEM enthusiast attendees at the STEM Carib Conference hosted by the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) and Harrisburg University. The breakout session showcased the team’s journey to the FIRST Global Challenge in Mexico City this past August.

Led by technical advisor Von Ryan Abrantes, physics teacher at St. Ignatius Catholic School and team manager Glenda McTaggart, Dart Education Programmes manager, team members Adrian Phillips-Hernaez, Ethan Cronier and Joe Allom-Perez shared the steps they took to build their robot Kraken to compete at the international challenge.

Technical advisor Von Ryan Abrantes said that the FIRST Global challenge left him with “goosebumps”.

“The experience was so inspiring, and it really encouraged us to think of STEM as a bridge to collaboration”.

Now in its sixth year, the STEM Carib Conference aims to inspire youth interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Scientists, inventors, educators and experts hosted over 40 sessions on topics ranging from biotechnology, astronomy, robotics and cybersecurity. Inspiring critical thinking, curiosity and collaboration in students were themes that resonated throughout the sessions.

During his nine-year tenure, UCCI President J.A. Roy Bodden has been a steadfast advocate for STEM education. Inspired by conference co-founder, the late Dr. William (Bill) Hrudey, Bodden believed it was important to incorporate STEM subjects in the curriculum to better prepare students for an ever-changing world.

“The challenges of the 21st century are those that can be solved by STEM,” says President Bodden.

Dart’s focus on STEM is rooted in the company’s commitment to help equip Cayman's youth with the skills required to be tomorrow's leaders and innovators. An education in STEM subjects fosters a meaningful way for students to learn problem solving, critical thinking collaboration, communication and creativity; skills that are vital for success in today's workplace and the future success of the Cayman Islands.

“We are thrilled to share our experience at the FIRST Global Challenge with other STEM enthusiasts,” says Glenda McTaggart, Dart Education Programmes manager.

“It was wonderful to see so many interested attendees at our Robotics session, and I hope it has inspired more students to seek opportunities to invent, create and build.”