WRO Egypt: Using VRT to reach more kids

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Marwa Soudi, National Organizer in Egypt and co-founder of Ideas Gym, sees Virtual Robotics Toolkit as a way to give more kids access to robotics.

What is the situation in Egypt?

We’ve been semi locked down since the middle of March, with schools and universities closed. Many work from home, we can’t have any kind of gatherings, and shops close after 5 pm. By the end of May we might open up more.

Will you be able to host your final in September?

I don’t think we can. For one because sponsorships are hard to find, as everyone is trying to cover their losses due to COVID-19. Also because the international final has been cancelled. That will discourage teams from participating. I plan to do a virtual final instead. We have experience from organizing other events, like the National Science Fair, which has been virtual this year. For the WRO final we can use the Virtual Robotics Toolkit (VRT) as a good solution to reach teams.

What is your plan for this season?

I am doing a social media soccer game with my team, and we are looking to do a Regular category online, depending on what possibilities VRT presents. 

How are you using VRT?

I’ve been training participants since last summer. This training won second place in DigiEduHack Espoo led by United National Technology Innovation Lab in Finland and Alto University. The same training was nominated to UNESCO Mobile learning symposium 2020, where I was supposed to talk about it. But it has been postponed due to COVID-19. Even before the pandemic we wanted more kids to participate in WRO. We don’t have LEGO Education here, so VRT is a way to give more kids access to robotics. 

We have been training students using our pedagogical framework since July last year. We have had a second round starting in March 2020 with around 50 students. The age range is 10-17, both girls and boys. 

They don’t come to us through schools, but find us on our social media platform, which has started to become known. Some are students come from our offline camps, who wanted to study something during COVID-19. A few come from outside of Egypt. A course takes 6 weeks, and the price, which has been discounted during the pandemic, to 750 Egyptian Pounds, roughly US$ 47.

Watch how WRO Egypt do LEGO Robots Online training using VRT