Zero Robotics (ZR) is an international robotics programming competition hosted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and NASA where the robots are the SPHERES satellites inside the International Space Station. “ZeRoRo Armenia”, the project based on the title of the Zero Robotics competition, is a summer camp project, where the participants learn satellite coding, present their team work, and send their code to MIT to participate in the ZR international competition.
In the spring of 2018, YES Armenia partnered with Mariam Avagyan, who is currently an Electrical Engineering Ph.D. student at Columbia University. Mariam has earned a double Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering at Trinity College CT, USA and has conducted similar camps in 2017 and 2018 in Connecticut, USA, with more than 50 students. Based on this experience, YES Armenia and Mariam proposed a joint project to the Davis Foundation for Davis Projects for Peace grant. The proposal was chosen and funding was granted by the Davis Foundation.
ZeRoRo was a great success and truly a life-changing experience for 17 participants. The Summer camp offered children living in conflict-ridden areas of Armenia bordering Azerbaijan the chance to learn about robotics and coding. The camp is specifically designed to use engineering to promote peace and prove that the technology can be also used for peace.
ZeRoRo was not only a coding camp, but also an opportunity for the children to widen their horizon and learn about other important things such as leading a healthy lifestyle, preparing college applications, becoming an entrepreneur, etc. This was achieved by inviting a number of guest speakers to our summer camp, who are professionals in their sphere and were happy to discuss the above-mentioned topics with ZeRoRo participants. Each of the invited ten speakers brought unique experience to the audience and introduced though discussions, games and role plays such topics as tourism, modern education and education via games, first aid, and more.
At the end of each working week the participants had also site visits – first to Byurakan Observatory and COAF (Children of Armenia Fund) SMART Center in Lori region to practice their knowledge and share their experience with students from other regions, who also learn coding.