More than 1,200 competitors, 250 trainers from 62 cities of Belarus, Russia, Latvia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan gathered at the VII Minsk Open RoboTournament on May 31 – June 2, 2019. For three days of the 7th Minsk RoboTournament – an international competition in educational robotics – exciting battles of robots were taking place and prizes for the best robot technicians were given in 27 categories for children and adults

We have talks with the heroes of the occasion – adults and young robot technicians who came to the robot tournament: someone as a participant, and someone as a coach or parent.

Ekaterina Moskaleva, a teacher of additional education at the Gomel State Palace of Children and Youth, has been teaching robotics for the fourth year: “I started with EV3 with older children, and then switched to WeDo with smaller ones. Because, as it turned out, when children are not prepared from a young age, they do not have good knowledge of mechanics – and it is difficult for them to program. Therefore, we decided that children should immediately be prepared for this and begin with WeDo sets. And only then move on to programming – and then designing models”.

However, this is not the only point of view. A trainer of several Moscow teams Natalya Petrovskaya believes that a trainer need to be very careful with teaching robotics:

“I am a mathematician-robotics specialist by education. I work at the Moscow State University at the Department of Theoretical Mechanics and Mechatronics. Robotics is actually a very serious and complex subject, and when a child in kindergarten says that s/he is a robotics engineer and knows everything, then this is certainly not the truth. A child plays, s/he likes it, because it is fashionable, it is a technique and there are motors here. But as soon as s/he faces difficulties and realizes that it is really difficult, at this moment it is very important that the coach correctly explaines all of this and motivates to work and do not give up, because later s/he will create cool inventions”.

Many types of robot competitions are analogs of sports competitions in the human world: football, sumo, rally, obstacle race. As a rule, the more there are similarities with sports games, the more difficult is robotic competitions: for example, playing football with autonomous robots is much more difficult than with controlled ones. Sometimes love of a particular sport can be a driver for a robotic sport. Members of one Ekaterina Moskaleva's team are young football fans. At the Minsk RoboTournament, the guys choose the category “Controlled Robofootball”.

Ekaterina Moskaleva (left) with the "award-winning" team

The younger kids are happy to participate in competitions on assembling robots models in categories related to WeDo and programming on Scratch. For the purpose of participation in the VII Minsk open RoboTournament, some children overcame more than two thousand kilometers!

Duboyenko Tatiana, head of the kindergarten "Legopolis" in Perm, and Krendel Galina, an additional education teacher in this garten, came to the Minsk open RoboTournament together with a friendly team of children–robotechnicians and their parents. A trip to Belarus and participation in the Minsk technicians became a bright and interesting impression for the children.

“For a long time we and children have been trying to go beyond just the city competitions, – says Galina Sergeyevna. – We are constantly looking for some opportunities. And now we told their parents about the Minsk RoboTournament – and they agreed ... Children are very interested in robotics. Thanks to robotics, they experience momentary joy from what they do and they succeed. That is, it seems that robotics is not an easy thing, but everything works! Is is cool. And children, being engaged in robotics, receive positive emotions. And robotics promote development: programming and algorithmic skills”.

A team from Perm!


Svetlana V. Meshchenko is also confident in her pupils. Svetlana Viktorovna teaches English language and computer science at “Lelchitsy Secondary School No. 1”: “Although our children have worked on robotics only since September, there are already diploma winners among them. Our school did not have enough classes in robotics. As soon as they appeared, pupils immediately became interested in programming. Classes in robotics have helped children not only to discover their talent, but also to develop perseverance and hard–working nature”. Her pupils participate in such competitions for the fourth time, and the Minsk Open RoboTournament is the most ambitious.

From left to right: Yana Gribovskaya (EV3 line, Grade 7); Meshchenko Svetlana, teacher; Meshchenko Milana (Scratch Squeezer, Grade 5); Yaromich Anya (Scratch Squeezer, Grade 6)

Egor Meshchenko (9th grade, the 2nd award) 

The Minsk open RoboTournament is open to everyone without exception: the main thing is an interest in robots and a desire to learn – this is precisely the strength of the robot tournament to unite and inspire self–realization. In 2019 the “open” status of the RoboTournament is only confirmed. This year for the first time in Minsk the RoboTournament was attended by inclusive teams: “Inva–team” and “Inclusive girls”. In addition, in even more competitive categories there was no age bracket. The oldest participant of the RoboTournament is 60 years old, the youngest is recently 6 years old. Girls also competed shoulder to shoulder with boys.

The young participant of the RoboTournament Sonya has many hobbies: in kindergarten the girl is studying robotics and logic, goes to an artistic circle, to dance and figure skating. But the most favorite of all hobbies is designing of robots. As the girl admits, she has not yet thought about a profession, but she wants to continue working on robotics and participate in RoboTournaments. Most of all, Sonia loves to constructs models – she does not think that this activity is interesting only for boys.

In addition the VII Minsk Open RoboTournament is also interesting for those who are not related to robotics. Someone came to look at self–made technical devices created by Belarusian makers at the first “Maker Fest” festival in Belarus. And someone came for useful advice, how to choose the profession of their dreams and pass exams on 100 points: within the VII Minsk Open RoboTournament an exhibition of educational technologies were acting during all three days of the competition. The representatives of the leading technical departments of the Republic and leaders of educational initiatives presented their reports. Some schools, educational centers and universities presented their stands. All the events that took place within the Minsk Open RoboTournament were provided with free admission, and participation in the Tournament competitions was free.

Among all of Minsk Open RoboTournaments the seventh tournament in 2019 seems to be the most ambitious. It looks like the RoboTournament do not let the foot off the gas going, but on the contrary, it is growing in popularity among children, parents and teachers.

Text: Margarita Rovbo
Photo: Konstantin Veko, Eon Tatiana.