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Samoan students show heart through robotics

Students at Robert Louis Stevenson Senior School are returning home with gold medals after participating in an international robotics competition in Dubai. 

The team of five, placed first in the 'Rajaâ Cherkaoui El Moursli Award for Courageous Achievement', which goes to teams who exhibited a 'can do' attitude throughout the challenge, even under difficult circumstances, or when things do not go as planned.

Overall, the Samoan team ranked 26th out of 193 countries with seven wins, two losses and no draws.

The 2019 Global F.I.R.S.T. Challenge was the first time Samoa has participated in the international olympiad-style event, which was established three years ago to encourage children to pursue science and engineering careers. 

The competition takes its name from the American non-profit which sponsors it: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

Eleven countries from the Pacific region competed in the three-day event. 

Samoa stands just behind Australia, which ranked 24th; the Cook Islands at 30th; Papua New Guinea at 76th; Fiji at 88th; the Marshall Islands at 95th; and the Solomon Island follows closely behind at 96th.

Team Tonga came in at 117th; Vanuatu at 153rd; Kiribati at 171st and New Zealand at 177th.

Silver medals for the Courageous Achievement Award went to team Bahrain, while a team from the Comoros took out the bronze medals.

The Form 5 students - Aukusitino Potoi, Julius Netzler, Victoria Amosa, Alexandria Matalavea and team captain, Marion Fruean - are being accompanied by teacher, Masa Fa’asau and mentor, Lemamea Sia Matalavea.

R.L.S.S Principal, Fiaapia Devoe, said they are "happy and excited" for the students' achievements in Dubai.

Ms. Devoe said she cannot wait for their arrival.

She also credited the parents for their strong support for the robotics learning, saying "it has been a real teamwork".

"We are all very happy and excited about the news, I mean who wouldn't be excited about the student's efforts," she said.

"We are hoping that when they return, we can greet them on arrival. It has been a real teamwork to get them where they are and when they left, and they have finally done it."

On day three of the competition, Team Samoa played two matches. The first was with an alliance of teams from Mauritius and Botswana; a win advancing them to 9th place from 16th in the previous day. 

But the victory was short-lived when they lost their second match in alliance with New Zealand and Grenada.

Israel and Belarus were the overall victors for the competition. .

Global First FIRST that the bravery showcased in the event by participants can be brought back into their countries and be leaders of change.

FIRST Global is a non-profit organisation that promotes science, technology, engineering, and math (S.T.E.M.) education and career development by involving students from around the world in a robotics competition modelled after the Olympic Games.

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