By Dr. Karen Joyce, She Maps
Have you ever stopped to imagine the world in 10, 20, or even 30 years? Most of us would have read an article or blog with predictions of the future, or watched a movie with futuristic scenes. Many of these depictions focus on what the future will look like.
Here at She Maps, we are interested in who the future will look like. Who are the innovators and leaders of the future?
Of course, we know the answer to that question—today’s youth is our future workforce. And we are working to create a more diverse workforce and leadership than what we currently see, particularly concerning science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).
We first began talking with WeRobotics about a year ago, sharing a common interest in engaging youth in drone and robotic technology. On our part, we’ve been teaching our She Maps drone and STEM engagement program in schools and community groups across Australia, the US, and the UK for the past three years. WeRobotics had started expanding their FlyingLabs network around the world and were looking to increase their activities with youth. We thought that it would be a great idea to collaborate on a project to train FlyingLabs staff to teach our ‘ready-made’ signature engagement program.
Today’s youth is our future workforce. And we are working to create a more diverse workforce and leadership than what we currently see, particularly concerning science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).
In our first ‘pilot’ (no pun intended!) project, staff from nine FlyingLabs completed our online She Maps Community Educator training. Buoyed by really positive outcomes and feedback, we were successful in obtaining funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Australian-ASEAN Council Grant program to roll out our next phase.
In February 2020, we arrived in Manila to meet what would soon become our first cohort of She Maps / Flying Labs Certified Educators. It was fabulous to meet the Philippines team, who are supported by SRDP (Phoebe, Joel, Leigh, Jerry, Aji, and Gel) and Remote Medical (Heidi). It was also special to have Uttam (Nepal Flying Labs), Ruchi (India Flying Labs), and Uyangaa and Amrita (both from WeRobotics) join us for the training. What an incredible multicultural group with fabulously diverse expertise!
First up, our trainees need to ‘experience our She Maps program as students themselves. Then we began the process of teaching to teach. Within the group, there’s lots of technical expertise in using drones, but for some, it was their first time teaching. And certainly teaching 30 excited kids with ten drones flying all at once is a challenging task for even the most experienced educators!
As we dissected individual components of the program, it was fun for me to see their growing confidence, particularly with troubleshooting and ‘crowd control.’ As everyone started to become more comfortable with the content and structure, I enjoyed seeing their personalities begin to shine through.
After two intensive days of preparation, practice, and performance, we hit the road for 2.5 hours driving north to get to Pampanga for the weekend. Co-Founder of Philippines Flying Labs Heidi Sampang had found a school in a remote Indigenous community with minimal access to these types of learning opportunities, and we would be teaching four programs over the weekend to their students and teachers.
What a welcome we received! We were treated to a fabulously colorful and energetic welcome dance that the students had choreographed themselves. This will most definitely stay in my mind as a highlight of our stay in the Philippines.
Then it was down to business. Over the previous two days, I had done all the hard work preparing our new Educators. Now it was all up to them to deliver the goods!
Watching any team teach, tweak, and perfect the program is always a highly rewarding experience for me. The group took on board every piece of feedback I could provide and continued to raise their bar of awesomeness as the weekend progressed. This was also the first time I had seen my program taught in a different language, so I got a massive kick out of that!
We returned to Manila, tired, and accomplished. Importantly, I’m 110 percent confident that our new She Maps Certified Instructors will do a fantastic job sharing their love of and experience with drones and STEM in their local communities. I’m super excited to follow their progress and look forward to meeting up with everyone again.
Special thanks to the following people/groups for making it all possible:
- Joel Cruz – for providing freedom for his staff to participate
- Phoebe Cartilla – for being a tremendous in-country liaison
- Heidi Sampang – for organizing the logistics for training venues and accommodation
- Gilles Fischer and Uyangaa Munkbat – for organizing the Flying Labs participants
- All training participants for volunteering their time to be a part of the program
WeRobotics and She Maps will continue supporting Flying Labs with their youth engagement and training activities incentives over the coming months. We would like to thank participants from Jamaica, Kenya, Panama, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, South Pacific, Tanzania and Uganda Flying Labs as well as the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) innovationXchange (iXc) for their financial support.