Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor has disclosed advanced discussions with lawmakers on the possibility of extending Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to schools outside of Monrovia.
“Firstly let me thank Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence for encouraging the kids in science and technology, because this is what those in Western countries where children are encouraged in this program as early as second and third grades, so it means we are way behind,” the former Bong County Senator said.
Vice President Howard Taylor made remarks during the Second National Robotic Competition held at the Fair Ground in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, witnessed by Senators from Lofa, Grand Kru, Margibi, Grand Bassa counties, as well as as a member of the House of Representatives from River Cess county.
“It takes a visionary person to find something that we are not doing and to fix it; we want to thank Senator Lawrence for her farsightedness; Senator Oscar Cooper and I have been talking about how to extend this particular program to other counties, and I hope next year we will be talking about County Competition,” VP Taylor emphasized.
She disclosed that a trip is expected in Rwanda for Robotic competition, and told the kids how she and Senator Lawrence were working to ensure that some of them make that trip in March to represent Liberia.
VP Howard Taylor has already talked to a group to help her find money for that trip, which will be followed immediately by the one planned for the United States.
On behalf of the Senators present, VP Howard Taylor presented US$400 for the four competing teams, and promised that the next one will be very serious that will bring together contestants from Margibi, Lofa, and Bong counties.
Grand Bassa Senator Jonathan L. Kaipay, announced an initial contribution of US$1,000 to help his kinsman offset the kids’ trip, while Senator Oscar Cooper said he was inspired to take it to Margibi. He promised his county’s participation in the next competition; “and on behalf of my wife and myself, with contribution to the ticket, we will start with US$500.”
Lofa Senator Stephen Zargo promised L$100,000 on behalf of the people of his county and the Liberty Party he represents at the Legislature.
The competition was held among young kids, some of whom for the first time attended the International Robotic Competition in the United States in 2017. They were placed in four groups of seven each.
The contestants were given 30 minutes to assemble a robot, which they had already programmed through a computer, to the amazement of those in attendance. The teams, within the stipulated time frame, successfully assembled engineering and construction robots and, through help of batteries, performed perfectly.
Senator Lawrence disclosed that the idea of introducing the program to kids in Grand Bassa County was conceived two years ago when she decided to standardize elementary schools in the county.
“I took World Wide [Mission School] as a pilot program and transformed it down from a high school to elementary and introduced phonics, and I brought in a team that trained over 150 teachers in the entire county to be able to do phonics in the elementary schools.”
According to Senator Lawrence, the program could only be introduced in elementary schools and World Wide Mission School, an elementary-to-senior high school founded by her father, was the only school she could get to make the transformation to qualify for STEM integration.