"Skystone" builds local excellence in robotics

Nine teams from seven of Grand Cayman’s local high schools gathered at the Camana Bay Arts & Recreation Centre on 1 February for ‘SKYSTONE’, the 2020 Minds Inspired Robotics’ FIRST Technical Challenge. The students were asked to imagine the cities of the future and design a robot capable of overcoming obstacles that stand in the path to build a superstructure.

Informed by the Dart family’s multi-generational commitment to education, the mission of Minds Inspired is to provide young people in the Cayman Islands with unique learning experiences, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, collectively known as STEM. Sponsored by Aureum Re, Caribbean Utilities Co., Digicel and Health City Cayman Islands in partnership with Dart Minds Inspired, this year’s competition was powered by Star Wars ‘A Force For Change’.

“The mission of Minds Inspired is to provide our young people with unique STEM learning experiences that prepare them for the careers of the future and teach valuable life skills, such as how to overcome challenges through teamwork, innovative thinking, and a strong, personal work ethic,” says Dart Chief Executive Officer Mark VanDevelde. “We are proud of the success of this second annual national robotics competition and look forward to our continued partnership with like-minded local organisations to power STEM learning in the Cayman Islands.” 

During SKYSTONE, student teams are paired into alliances to compete against each other in the playing field. Over the course of the evening, students from Cayman International School (CIS), Cayman Prep and High School, Clifton Hunter High School, Grace Christian Academy, John Gray High School, St. Ignatius Catholic School, and Triple C School all had the opportunity to work together. Both CIS and St. Ignatius contributed two teams each to the competition.

In the final round, the competition came down to teams from CIS and St. Ignatius. In a narrow victory, CIS claimed the Winning Alliance award.

St. Ignatius Catholic School walked away with the Finalist Alliance Award, the Team Spirit Award and the Inspire Award for their technical excellence and embodiment of the “Gracious Professionalism” that characterises the spirit of competition throughout all FIRST programmes.

The Innovation and Engineering Design Award went to CIS for their innovative and creative robot design, and the judging panel awarded John Gray High School the Judges’ Award for their unique efforts throughout the competition.

“The FIRST Technical Challenge is becoming a highlight on the calendar of local education events, bringing together students from a variety of local high schools to partner and compete. Students who participated in SKYSTONE distinguished themselves as graceful competitors and team players, embodying the FIRST philosophy of ‘Gracious Professionalism’ throughout,” says Dart Senior Manager Education Programmes Glenda McTaggart.

In keeping with the collaborative spirit of FIRST, nomination to the Cayman Islands National Robotics Team that will travel to the FIRST Global Challenge later this year is open to all participants of ”SKYSTONE”, not just the winning alliance. Teachers and teammates are encouraged to nominate students who best exemplify excellence in technical ability, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and task organisation for consideration.

Last year, a team of 11 students representing seven local high schools travelled to Dubai, UAE, to compete in the 2019 FIRST Global Challenge.

“Our next step will be the exciting but difficult task of selecting the 2020 National Team from such a talented pool of students. We are grateful for the continued support of our partner sponsors, the volunteers, judges, event partners, students, teachers and local community to build excellence in robotics locally,” McTaggart says.

The location and theme for the 2020 FIRST Global Challenge will be announced later this month.

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