Canossian School NJRC team members Peter & Xue Hu test their program on a challenging course called the play field.
While the National Junior Robotics Competition (NJRC) has been around since 1999, it was only in September 2006 that a team of students from Canossian School, a special education school for hearing-impaired children, took part for the first time. Working under the mentorship of two teachers, these students from the school’s Robotics Club put in months of hard work prior to the competition - and emerged with not one but two awards, for Best Newcomer and Best Marketing Gimmick. Not a bad showing for a club that was started only four months before the competition.
MOE’s Special Education Unit has been drawing special education schools into national school events like NJRC. It encourages these schools to take up the challenge to stretch the potential of their students and enrich their education through such activities.
Canossian School initiated the Robotics Club to teach students the use of technology and to foster teamwork. Mrs Caroline Lee and Mrs Grace Leung, the two teachers-in-charge, observed that the students have come to appreciate technology as an integral part of life.
Canossian School NJRC team members Qi Jian, Jian Hao and Yew Kim busy with the construction of the robots.
Their students developed good collaborative skills as they had to work effectively and efficiently as a team in order to do well in the competition. They also demonstrated problem-solving skills as they went about fixing the robots and handling other issues that arose. They even started a website, Junior Inventors, to chronicle their journey.
More importantly, the students were given an excellent opportunity to participate in national events and competitions, which are usually attended only by mainstream schools. As they interacted with the judges and their counterparts from the mainstream schools, they developed a greater sense of self-confidence. One student who was usually shy even volunteered to sell the products they had developed for the competition to total strangers in the competition hall.
The Canossian School robotics team with their teachers, Mrs Caroline Lee and Mrs Grace Leung.
Mrs Marcia Yong, Principal of the Canossian School, says, “As our students went about accomplishing the various tasks, they were challenged physically and mentally. They learned to overcome their fears to become stronger and more confident. This sense of achievement was a cherished moment for every one of them. They achieved feats that they once reckoned were out of their reach.”
This year, Canossian School will again participate in the NJRC. A new team of students from the Robotics Club will undergo various training sessions, such as the advanced Robotics training by NRJC organisers Singapore Science Centre, and is all fired up to wow the judges again.