In efforts to groom a generation of young Nigerians who are socially aware and enhanced to proffer sustainable solutions to everyday challenges, the United States government has committed to promoting STEM education in Nigeria.
STEM education is a teaching philosophy that combines four specialities - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - into a single, cross-disciplinary programme that offers instruction in real-life applications and teaching methods.
Partnering with the Global Air Drone Academy and the Lagos State Ministry of Education, the U.S. Consulate General hosted "Africa's first drone soccer competition" in Lagos to provide opportunity and inspire interest in STEM education in order to "contribute to creating sustainable and inclusive economic prosperity in Nigeria," a statement by the Consulate said.
The competition featured eight girl-led teams selected from 71 student teams from public high schools across Agege, Alimosho and Ifako Ijaiye communities of Lagos Education District 1. The Pace Setters Team from Ijaiye Housing Estate Senior Grammar School emerged as the tournament's winner.
"Alisgrams Team from Alimosho Senior Grammar School and Alpha Team from Abesan Senior High School took second and third place positions respectively. The three best performing teams won a prize of a $1,500 STEM lab each for their respective schools," the statement read in part.
Speaking at the grand finale of the tournament, U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli explained that the competition was designed to provide the students with quality technological learning opportunities and stimulate their interest in math and science and careers in the STEM fields.
"We are so proud to partner with the Lagos State Ministry of Education and the Global Air Drone Academy to not only bring practical, hands-on STEM education to the Lagos school district but also to offer the opportunity for representing schools to show off their STEM skills in drone soccer, the world's newest sport," Ibelli said.
On his part, the co-founder of the U.S.-headquartered Global Air Drone Academy, Eno Umoh, said that one of the programme's key objectives was to engage underserved communities, especially young girls, about the impact they could have in STEM fields.
"We are beyond excited to be pioneering the newest emerging e-sport in Africa. Drones are an innovative and engaging tool that can be used to inspire students to pursue education and careers in STEM," he noted.
The statement also said that the drone soccer competition was a follow-up initiative to a series of drone technology and STEM training for 500 students and a capacity building workshop for 50 teachers on effective approaches to teaching STEM subjects held in 2021 in Lagos Education District 1.
"Drone Soccer is the world's newest e-sport played with flying quadcopters in protective plastic exoskeletons designed for full-contact gameplay. Drone Soccer is the only educational robotics competition that is also an international sport, sanctioned by the World Air Sports Federation (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) in 2018", the statement explained.