The Speaker of the 54th National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia, Dr. Bhofal Chambers, on Wednesday, May 11, 2020 met with leaders and mentors of FIRST Global- “Team Liberia”, for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. FIRST Global started its operations in 2016 with the aspiration of creating passion in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Since then, TEAM LIBERIA has represented Liberia at International Robotic Competitions in the style of Global Olympics, wining distinct awards and ranked at surprising positions with astronomical performances among more than 180 countries.
During the Team presentation, the Speaker extolled mentors of the team for a splendid work and challenged the team to be more innovative by applying the culture of research and innovation “Firstly, I want to thank all of you for taking the courage to represent our country Liberia on the international stage. It is pleasing to know that Liberia was represented again during the 2019 challenge, but I want to encourage you all to engage one another and create a national event that will inspire students of Liberia to learn about real world challenges, like what other students are doing around the world in order to invent, create, design, and build Liberia”. The Speaker informed the team that he will continue to support Liberia students and challenged them to continue to seek knowledge and skills which will enable Liberia to compete with the rest with the world. He stated, “our kids must travel and meet their colleagues in the developed world to improve their skills and knowledge about building robot and the emerging technology that our world is headed to.
Speaker Chambers wholeheartedly sponsored Team Liberia to participate in the 2017 inaugural FIRST Global Robotic Challenge held in Washington DC, USA. The Team was made of seven (7) students from District # 2 representing six (6) high schools in Pleebo City and trained by the Department of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at William V.S Tubman University in Harper City, Maryland. These kids were made to learn about robot design, programming, and simulations for four (4) months before leaving Liberia to participate with their counterparts in the United States. The 2017 FIRST Global Challenge centered around the theme of providing access to clean water. Liberia was ranked at the position of 12th in the world and 2nd in Africa in mid-July, where 163 teams from 157 nations gathered together at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. to not only share in their love of STEM through Competition, but to also meet and learn from youth around the globe as they move forward to being change makers in their communities.
Additionally, the Speaker continued his support to the team to participate in another Robotic Challenge centered around the theme “Energy Impact” held in August 2018 Mexico City, Mexico. Hon. Dr. Bhofal Chambers, upon hearing about another FIRST Global Robotic Challenge to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, he did not waver on his support and immediately made several donations to the team which was trained by the Liberia National Student Union (LINSU) for three (3) months before airlifting to the United Arab Emirates. Team Liberia successfully participated in the Dubai Robotic Challenge where Team Liberia Mentor was awarded “Outstanding Mentor of the Year”. Team Liberia was among eleven (11) (all girls) teams that participated making the total of 191 teams represented by various nations in the world.
Team Liberia is one of the Partners of FIRST Global, comprising of high school students who have a passion for Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) from across the 15 subdivisions of the country. FIRST Global organizes a yearly international robotics challenge to ignite a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) among more than two billion youths across the world. Established by the founder of FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), FIRST Global was established as a US-based 501(c) (3) not-for-profit public charity to provide the framework for an “Olympics”-style robotics challenge, FIRST Global invites one team from every nation to participate in an international robotics event that builds bridges between high school students with different backgrounds, languages, religions, and cultures.
By bringing these future STEM leaders together in an engaging and collaborative competition, that drives home the importance, excitement, and applicability of STEM education, FIRST Global inspires students to learn the skills they will need to make the discoveries their parents and grandparents would consider miracles, impossible, or just plain science fiction. FIRST Global also strives to convince the various national governments and organizations of the world to embrace STEM education, and to support it by investing in their young adults that will soon begin to make their marks in the world. The Speaker made his initial financial startup for the 2020 FIRST Global Robotic Challenge, but a decision was reached on May 4, 2020 by the event committee of FIRST Global to have the event canceled, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The Speaker has been contributing towards the building of the research and innovative capacities of Liberian students through robotics and STEM education since 2016. As a lover and promoter of education, Speaker Chambers has invested so much in preparing the future of underprivileged students in his district and some of the universities around the country, through the provision of scholarships and STEM programs.