The Bin-it project was simply too much fun! This was at the Bulawayo City Hall
The first time I heard of Miss Earth Zimbabwe was in 2012 when Dimitra Markou was the reigning Miss Earth and I was involved in the Bin-It Zimbabwe project. My first thought was “this is great, they have a pageant for the environment!” I never once thought I would be a contestant because I am more of a behind the scenes girl! This year I saw the call for Miss Earth contestants and I decided to give it a try. When we were told to plan and implement a project I was simply even more excited by the Miss Earth Zimbabwe pageant! It would give me a shot at my beauty pageant queen dream AND also let me run a project!
My project is called “Environment Matters” (yes, that double entendre was intentional). It is a project that is mainly based in Kuwadzana, Harare. I am going to be working in Kuwadzana for a very long time hence I decided to lay the foundation of some environmental work in the community through this project. The project has a triple touch point which encompasses schools, communities and online presence. I set out to form “Green Zim for Life” Environmental Clubs in schools, engage with the Kuwadzana residents and interact with the online community as well.
EMA was kind enough to give us colour coded bins for use during the competition.
Even though I coached some of the volunteers who were coaching the kids,it boggled my mind how we would be using robots to solve litter problems. While I was coaching the volunteers building and programming the robots looked easy because we had pictorials to guide us. What I didn’t know was that on the day of the competition the teams of 2 -3 kids had to build and program the robots without pictorials. We all had no clue what the challenge for the competition day was and so we did our best to make sure that the teams we were coaching were well equipped for anything. As the day of the competition drew closer I was probably even more excited than the kids, I kept wondering what the challenge was and how they would tackle it.
Judges having a look at all the robots that were built on the day
The 26th of July finally arrived and the challenge was revealed: the teams had 150 minutes to build robots that collected litter from 3 bins and 1 bonus bin which had an obstacle in front of it to make it more difficult for the teams to reach it. As soon as the challenge was revealed I was even more excited! Teams started working on turning their Lego pieces and Mindstorm kits into robots. These kids were really geeking it out! They were connecting Lego pieces together and typing commands on laptops for their robots to follow – all this at top speed! I went around the tent asking the teams tons of questions and found out that most of them joined the Robotics club at their schools because it was something different. I promise you – it really is something different and it is very exciting.
Project teams were also part of the competition and these were made up of 4 – 6 members who had to research on various topics. The team that I was working with researched on water purification and they had a very well researched presentation. Other teams researched on ways of recycling plastic, paper and even on waste management. The solutions that the project teams came up with were simply mind blowing! They were showing how to make recycled paper, use plastic waste for repairing roads (a solution I believe we really need in Zimbabwe) and much more.
This is my team – Royal Kids! They are super amaizng! That is the robot that they built and their project board is behind them
These are the Blue Sharks of Selbourne Routledge Primary School, they won the Overall Best Primary School award
At the end of the competition the teams had all managed to construct robots that DID collect litter from the bins. In case you are asking yourself what kind of robots these 8 – 18 year olds built, let me define a robot for you. A robot is an automated machine that is programed to follow certain commands. So in other words, to simplify it – anything that has a brain with a list of commands to follow and cannot think for itself is a robot. I am looking forward to so much more Green Tech initiatives, this is just the beginning of it all!