What makes STEM competitions so special?

The spirit of competition is one of those things we are all blessed with as children. But most of us tend to lose this competitive edge as we age. The good thing is, kids hardly ever have an ulterior motive when competing. For them, it’s merely about besting the other party while respecting the rules. And the childhood innocence that radiates during such competitions is a joy to behold.

WRO 2019
WRO Junior High

More than the prize, however, kids also get to learn a whole lot from STEM competitions. This is owed to the fact that competitions provide a breath of fresh air. It takes kids away from the rigidity of classes and allows them to express themselves. While doing so, they also learn valuable skills like time management, communication, teamwork, abstract thinking, problem-solving, and so on.

How do we know this?, it is from working and experiencing with kids ourselves, over the last serveral years. As of Jan 2020, Zebra Robotics has fielded over 65 teams, both winning and ‘need-to-work-more’ experiences. The fact is , kids want to work and learn more when they participate in competitions and get new ideas for their robot design.

For STEM competitions to be effective, they should be less about the results and more about the process, just like any other educational endeavor for kids. Children should be taught that although winning is great, the journey is more important. That way, they have a better chance of imbibing the valuable lessons the competitions are set up to teach.