Strategy, Negotiation and Robot Building: All in a Day’s Work for Junior Achievers

First Junior Achievement South Africa Innovation Challenge sponsored by RIM

March 19, 2012

First Junior Achievement South Africa Innovation Challenge sponsored by RIM

Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry® solution, sponsored Junior Achievement South Africa’s (JASA’s) first Innovation Challenge. This is in line with RIM’s global commitment to help develop business, science and mathematics skills and inspire more students to choose these subjects.

The event, held on 24 February at the University of Johannesburg’s Intellilab, saw 40 Grade 11 learners compete in teams of four to solve a series of challenges that aimed to teach them basic business skills as well as inspire them in science and technology. The learners were from McCauley House, Dawnview High School, Sunward Park High School and Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School.

They started the day in a special workshop where they disassembled BlackBerry® smartphones to learn how mobile phones work. They were also given BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablets to use for the day to take photos and videos and earn extra points for their team.

Each team needed to build a robot which they entered into a ‘robot race’ which was the highlight of the day. To win, they needed to trade robot parts in boxes at various ‘Market Points’ around the campus, choosing the right moment to make their purchases according to the fluctuating exchange rate.

They also had to trade robot parts with other teams, since none of the boxes contained all the spares needed to build a complete robot. Once they had all the parts, they needed to assemble and programme their robot for the race. The Duiker team won the race in a dramatic finish and was awarded a range of BlackBerry® prizes as well as R300 airtime for each team member. To watch the race, click here.

Several RIM employees volunteered to oversee the day’s activities and mentor the students as part of Proud2Be, a group of RIM programmes that help employees get involved in the community.

Says Robyn Milham, Head of Sales for Southern Africa at RIM: “This is a great example of our global strategy to support science, technology, engineering and maths learning to ensure a solid talent pool for the technology industry in the future. Since business, science and mathematic skills are so important to South Africa’s development, it was wonderful to see the children take so much joy in the day’s learning and activities.”

The JASA event was the first of six school events in EMEA that RIM will be sponsoring with Junior Achievement with the aim of bringing science and technology to life while teaching business and entrepreneurship skills. The next event took place in Italy on 15th and 16th March.