MBIT Teacher travels to Dubai to compete in Robotics Competition with students from Honduras!

Mr. Alan Ostrow, an Engineering Related Technology teacher at Middle Bucks Institute of Technology, teamed up with stu­dents from a small vil­lage in Honduras, to devel­op one of the most suc­cess­ful high school robot­ics pro­grams, and was able to com­pete glob­al­ly in a “Robotics Olympics”. Mr. Ostrow men­tored the group of teenagers from Honduras with the help of his MBIT stu­dents. The stu­dents from Instituto Santo Tomas de Aquino in Camasca, Honduras built robots using kits from the glob­al com­pe­ti­tion. Team Honduras trav­eled to United Arab Emirates to com­pete against 189 inter­na­tion­al teams in the FIRST Global Challenge on October 24th, 2019.


The part­ner­ship between Pennsylvania pub­lic schools, and the Honduran teens are made pos­si­ble from a char­i­ty called Shoulder to Shoulder. Shoulder to Shoulder has been chang­ing lives since it was estab­lished in 1989. The robot­ics glob­al com­pe­ti­tion began in 2017 in United States of America — Washington DC, in 2018 the com­pe­ti­tion was in Mexico — Mexico City, and this year United Arab Emirates — Dubai. The Honduran teens trav­el­ing to Dubai left behind their fam­i­lies, and mod­est homes to embark on this adven­ture. Most Honduran fam­i­lies from the vil­lage of Camasca, where the teens are from, are only able to get water every oth­er day, most have sparse elec­tric­i­ty, and many don’t go past the 6th grade. Team Honduras how­ev­er, is beat­ing the odds, since they are all in High School, and fur­ther­ing their edu­ca­tion while com­pet­ing in robotics.


Despite hum­ble begin­nings, the out­come of the com­pe­ti­tion was impres­sive. Team Honduras placed 15th out of 189 teams, and were award­ed a sil­ver medal “Judges Award”. Additionally, Mr. Ostrow men­tored Team Ukraine, via skype and email, which was only one of the chal­lenges. Team Ukraine was behind in get­ting the robot­ics kits that all teams use. So while most teams had months to exper­i­ment with the kits, Team Ukraine only had one week to pre­pare, and despite the short time, man­aged a 14th place over­all in the robot­ics competition.


The expe­ri­ence of this glob­al com­pe­ti­tion is more than plac­ing in the event, but more about see­ing that peo­ple are peo­ple no mat­ter where they are from. Teens are teens no mat­ter where you go, or where you are from.   Alan Ostrow not­ed, “These teams are com­pet­ing beyond their geo­graph­i­cal lot­tery of their life, and with their poten­tial, through hard work and doing things, can accom­plish more than they imag­ined”. The hard work put in by stu­dents, out­reach pro­grams, judges, and teach­ers, spot­lights the impor­tance of robot­ics pro­grams, teen com­pe­ti­tion, and glob­al connection.