The 2018 edition of the Malta Robotics Olympiad was held at MFCC, Ta’ Qali last weekend from Friday 20th April through Sunday 22nd. The exhibition hall had several stalls and booths displaying different forms of technology, mainly meant to spark interest in children in STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Math) through play and interaction. The highlight activities were competitive challenges that pitted young entrants against each other in one-on-one or team-versus-team scenarios. During the three days, visitors were also welcomed to sit in for several workshops, all meant to give children and teenagers a guided hands-on experience.
Tech on Display
This year’s event has been the biggest one so far. Children and their families had no shortage of fun and intriguing gadgets and activities to choose from. Some of the more prominent ones included robots made out of building blocks, various fully functioning contraptions built out of wood, a huge dance stage with motion sensor response technology, Esports, retro PC games, as well as creative and educational PC games, 3D printers, virtual musical instruments on PC using motion sensor, remote controlled robots, competitive challenges and games using robots, PC rigs set up to teach children coding in fun ways, model engineering and model trains, and a lot more. Attendees could also take pictures with functioning replicas of R2D2 and BB-8 from Star Wars as well as the eponymous Wall-E.
The Main Competitive Events
Moving towards the rear of the main hall, a couple of walled off sections were the areas hosting most of the workshops and main events with a few exceptions left for the main hall area to allow for a bigger audience. This year, we saw two challenges using LEGO® – LEGO® Sumo - Malta and Malta Junior LEGO® League. In the first one, groups of students were invited to collaborate in designing their own mini lego mecha robot. Following that, they’d test their mettle against other competing teams in a mini sumo ring. The winning team qualified for the international edition to be held later on.
Malta Junior LEGO® League was a more overtly educational event than the sumo challenge. Students were encouraged to think about environmental issues brought up in class and attempt a solution by building a model using LEGO® Education WeDo.
Next up was the D&T Expo (Design and Technology Expo). Students, especially those specializing in design and technology, were tasked with creative challenges in which they had to brainstorm and produce the most innovative designs in order to win. After that, the area was opened to the public, who were invited to try out current design technology such as laser cutters and 3D printers.
The CodeSpring Challenge was the only individual entry highlight event in the show. Students were given a number of JAVA problems to solve. The level of difficulty for each task became incrementally harder and the time allotted for each problem increased accordingly. Secondary level students (High School) with a knack for coding and hacking were invited to participate.
The DIY Bots Challenge was the newly added event to this year’s show. Anyone with a love for tinkering and inventing was able to participate by assembling their own robot. All entries were then screened by a jury panel to choose the most innovative and interesting creations. One of the main purposes behind this was to discover any budding talent in the area of robotics.
Footage of the event can be found at MRO's Facebook page
Wrapping MRO 2018 Up
The Malta Robotics Olympiad 2018 turned out to be a success judging not only by the number of families attending but by the children’s level of enthusiasm and fun, whether they were competing or simply casually experimenting with any tech on display.
Here at AUM, we believe in taking a practical and fun approach to learning. This is why we are always excited to see events such as the MRO. As we grow, we want to see our own students engage in similar practices and activities, so we will be looking to participate in similar events and eventually host our own.