In August 2018, Libraries Unlimited programme started coding workshops in the district level public libraries. Kano computer and Micro:bit were introduced to the children to make them believe that they can also learn coding. On 18 October 2019, a coding workshop was held in Sufia Kamal National Public library, Dhaka.
Mir Umaima Haque, a seventh-grader of Nalonda High School, was one of the participants of the workshop. She tried micro:bit coding in this workshop using block-based programming and loved it. It was only a two-hour coding session, but Umaima became very inspired from the session. After going back home, she continued to explore the internet and searched for different types of resources to learn programming. While searching, she also got to know how programming can be used to operate a robot. Her excitement and interest increased more and more, and she started learning about robotics as well. One two-hour session on coding changed the world of Umaima.
Umaima became more enthralled when she got to know about International Robot Olympiad 2019, and she felt confident that she can also participate in it. Umaima participated in Bangladesh Robot Olympiad 2019, which is the national level selection competition for participating in IRO. She secured her place in the 15-member Bangladesh team and went to Thailand to participate in Twenty-first International Robot Olympiad 2019.
International Robot Olympiad (IRO) is one of the most prestigious Olympiad in robotics sector worldwide, designed for 6-18 years old children. Every year around 1500 students from all over the world, participate in it in different types of competition. In 2019, The International Robot Olympiad 2019 took place in Chiang Mai, Thailand from 16 to 20 December 2019. A 15-member team from Bangladesh also participated in it. They participated in four types of competition – Creative category, Robot in Movie, Robot gathering and Line Following Adventure. It was a second-time participation from Bangladesh team. Previously in 2018, Bangladesh team achieved one gold medal, two highly recommended and one technical medal.
In Thailand, Umaima and her groupmate Abrar participated in the Creative Category for two days. They had to prepare and present their work with the robot in the presence of the judges' team under the theme of ‘Agricultural Revolution’. Creative Category’s judgment was based on the creativity and uniqueness of the robot. Their presentation won Umaima and Abrar the Gold medal in Junior Creative Category.
In 2019, Bangladesh won one gold, one technical, two silver and six bronze medals. Umaima touched a milestone for Bangladesh by becoming the first-ever female gold medallist for Bangladesh in any kind of international Olympiad.
‘I never thought that I will be able to achieve this gold medal,' said an overwhelmed Umaima. 'I still remember the day when I tried programming for the first time and how excited I was. I am now more inspired to learn programming and robotics after this achievement.’
She also believes Kano computer and micro:bit can become a very useful tool for the children of Bangladesh. As it is easily accessible in all the district public libraries, these computers can help the children of all over Bangladesh to learn programming.