Robot Boot Camp in Senegal ; A Nebraska Professor Returns to His Homeland to Teach Children Science

By Searcey, Dionne | International New York Times, May 31, 2016 | Go to article overview

Robot Boot Camp in Senegal ; A Nebraska Professor Returns to His Homeland to Teach Children Science


Searcey, Dionne, International New York Times


A Nebraska professor who returns home to Senegal to start a robotics competition hopes to instill a drive in schoolchildren to improve their world.

One robot slammed into some blocks and nearly fell to the floor. Another sideswiped a wall. Yet another spun in dizzying circles.

So when the robot built by students from an all-girls school finally navigated the twists of the maze, flawlessly rounding every corner and touching every required flag, the crowd went nuts.

The girls were among students from 25 schools who gathered in Dakar to compete in the second annual Pan-African Robotics Competition.

For five days, in a city where horses and carts are still fixtures on the many unpaved roads, boys and girls from sixth grade to high school hunched over laptops and tablets at a camp, entering code to guide their small blue robots through a labyrinth meant to test their skills in a competition on the final day.

The event was organized by Sidy Ndao, a Senegalese-born engineering professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who is on a mission to help further science, technology, engineering and math education, known as STEM skills, in West Africa.

In America, the need for more STEM education has become a stump speech delivered by many economists and business leaders. They emphasize that improving these skills will help the United States create more jobs, compete better globally and increase its economic growth.

The same is true, Dr. Ndao said, in Senegal and across West Africa, where incorporating STEM education can help set a course to improve everything from sanitation systems to agriculture and can create jobs in a place with soaring unemployment.

"There's a lot of work to be done here," said Dr. Ndao, 33.

It is not that schools in the region do not emphasize math and science already. The all-girls school at the competition, the Mariama Ba de Goree School, is known as one of the best math schools in Senegal. Though some schools outside Dakar, the capital, do not even have electricity, many private schools in the city have computer labs, include math and science clubs, and offer more technology courses than in the past.

But Dr. Ndao said the schools sometimes emphasized rote memorization rather than focusing on contextual learning. Students do not connect theories they learn with practical experiences, he argued.

"We have kids brought in from math and science schools, and when they see an airplane flying, they think it's magic," Dr. Ndao said. "But if you give them any math problem, they can solve it."

Dr. Ndao went to school in Senegal until his teenage years, struggling through elementary school. But something clicked in junior high, and he decided math was his thing.

Dr. Ndao's parents wanted a better education for him, so he went to New York, where he lived with a relative and enrolled in high school. Dr. Ndao said he had quickly risen to the top of his high school class and received a scholarship to City College of New York, where he studied mechanical engineering.

But there was a catch, he said: He was in the United States illegally. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Robot Boot Camp in Senegal ; A Nebraska Professor Returns to His Homeland to Teach Children Science
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.