Robot Festival Fukushima 2011
-Joining The Robot-manufacture Competition With Children In Fukushima-
From August 3rd to 5th 2011, as a part of recovery support from the big earthquake, we invited ten junior high school students from Fukushima to the Tokyo Science Museum and held a Robot Festival. In the Robot-manufacture competition. We made teams, mixing together students from Fukushima, Tokyo Metropolitan area, and Tokyo suburb areas. The main sponsor of the event was an executive of Robo Festa Fukushima 2011, a member of the association of NPO International Robo Festa. The outcomes of this competition were featured in Japanese newspapers and magazines.
10 boys and girls from Fukushima entered the contest designed to offer support to children from the devastated area. They were students from Watari Junior High School in Fukushima city and Shouyou Junior High School in Date city. Both schools are in difficult situations because of the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant; outdoor activities are limited and the radiated soils of the playgrounds have been replaced.
In this contest, 5 teams competed against each other by creating “energy efficient robots”.
Each team built 3 robots in 3 days and made the robots stack 11 paper-cups. On every cup, a piece of encouragement message towards the reconstruction of Fukushima was written.If the cups were successfully placed properly to show the message, the team got additional points.
The teams were given a limited amount of power to move each of their robots, and a new device that could measure detailed energy consumption of each robot. These devices from Ashida Design and Produce were donated by DUH. The device can measure and display the real-time power consumption of competing robots. If a team used too much power, its electricity supply was stopped. Therefore the students had to build efficient robots that work using no more than the limited power available.
The reason why this education funding was so important, was because Japan’s crisis of facing serious energy consumption issues after the shut down of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In order to give hope to the future of the local children in Fukushima, we thought it would be best for children to learn advanced robot building skills, and also come up with energy conscious solutions in the building process. Incorporating energy efficiency in children’s education from an early stage will help them make thoughtful decisions and creative solutions that have minimum impact on the environment.
These devices given are still being used in educational practices at the junior high schools from Fukushima.
2. Attitudes of Students
DUH representatives took part in an opening ceremony and handed the sets of teaching materials over to the students. The opening ceremony was the first time the students met each other. They were grouped with volunteer university students and junior high school technical teachers through the process of making robots. They seemed anxious at first, but soon became friends with each other while they concentrated on making robots. From the next day, they coped with working together with more enthusiasm. During the festival, they made magnificent and unique robots, which exceeded our expectations. Their robots piled up eleven paper cups on which they had written messages such as “Reach out towards the future” or “Rebuild Tohoku”. The students received a great applause from the audience. In the award ceremony, DUH representative, Mr.Leo, gave a special award to the students.
3. Comments of junior high school students from Fukushima
・Thank you very much for inviting us, junior high school students in Fukushima prefecture. I live a restricted life because of Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident. But, when I heard that we were going to be able to make robots for as long as I want with various people for 3 days in a Robot Festival, I was so excited I couldn’t wait for the event. I think I had a valuable experience through the united efforts of a great number of people. I really thank you for wonderful days. I hope to make robots with you again someday.
・Thank you for inviting us to The Robot Festival. We have been having a tough time because of the uncertainty of when the problems of the nuclear power power plany in Fukushima will be solved, so the contest was very enjoyable. We had many special experiences which we rarely have in our ordinary junior high school lives. Through these precious experiences, we could gain confidence in ourselves, and could grow up a bit. We will remember the spirit of challenge, and will think positively from now on. Again, I really thank you all.
・I appreciate the NPOs sponsoring this contest and the many volunteers and staff supporting it. Thanks to this contest, I’ll be able to share the energy I’ve received with my friends who have suffered from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Thank you very much.
4. Comments of Parents of junior high school students from Fukushima
・Now, we are living with stress because of the nuclear accident. So, I think that it was really good for us to participate a project like this. My son has loved robot-contests, machines and handcrafts since before. He was able to leave Fukushima for a short time and do what he wanted to do in Tokyo. I think he has had a great experience there. He was excited to spend three great days and enjoy this event. I appreciate the people involved in this event.
・Thank you very much for inviting us to the Robot Festival. Since the earthquake in March, students have spent inconvenient days, so I’m sure that it was very meaningful for them to join this Robot Festival in Tokyo. That morning my children looked nervous when they left home. After coming back to Fukushima, they had developed more self-confidence. I appreciate all the staff members who supported them. Thank you very much.
The support from many people put enthusiasm into this event. This is the first time the “energy efficiency measuring device” was ever to be put to use in the world after it’s long development. The incident of the nuclear accident is setting a new style of energy education to people in Japan.
There was a huge change in the expressions and energy of the children from the affected areas, as the event proceeded. In the beginning, the children in Fukushima rarely smiled or were outspoken. In the end, the bonding created by making something work together brought smiles and loud cheering. Some students after the contest even mentioned that the experience was so life changing and that they wanted to pursue a future in robot development, to contribute in building towards greater technology that helped people.
1)Undergraduate student of Shinshu University
Dai UENO, Risa OTA, Manabu KURANO, Yoshifumi HASHIMOTO
Keisuke OKADA ,Yohei MARYUYAMA
2)Graduate student of Shinshu University
Kentaro UCHIDA, Yuki NAKAYA
Colleen Dalton, Kosuke TANAKA
Edited by Miki Saito
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