Youngsters consider careers in STEM thanks to community robotics club

First Step Robotics in West Lothian was set up by a former technologist at the London School of Economics.

A new robotics club in West Lothian is inspiring more children to get involved in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

First Step Robotics, which runs in the Dundas community hub at Uphall Station Village, teaches young people in the community how to build and programme robots.

The club was set up last October by Edoh Agbenokoudji, a former technologist at the London School of Economics.

Originally from Togo in West Africa, he’s hoping to give opportunities to children that he wishes was available to previous generations.

Edoh said: “Where I grew up, you don’t have opportunity, so if you wanted to make something you had to find electronic paths in the trash and make things out of them. I used to enjoy it then.

“I came to the UK in 2003 and I realised there is a lot of opportunity so I started a robotics club and children seemed to like it a lot.

“Then five years ago I moved to West Lothian and I still have that dream and the passion to get young people involved in making stuff.”

The children have already competed in a regional robotics competition, where they won an Amaze Award for the most well rounded, top performing robot.

Ifeoluwa Fabiyi, 15, joined the club when it began last year and says he is now considering a career in STEM.

He said: “Technology is the future and we need to prepare ourselves and this robotics would really help me for an application to a university or school that I really want to go to.”

Daniela Ukpe, 14, said she’s also been thinking about what she would like to study at university thanks to the club.

Corey (left) and Daniella (middle) working on their latest robot. STV News

She said: “I’m grateful for him (Edoh) donating his time to help up and invest in our lives. I feel like it’s helped me in my own way and I feel like I could want to do that (robotics) when I finish high school.”

Others feel they have developed different skills and grown in confidence.

Corey Hobson, 14, said: “I feel like I’ve developed my communication with the group because before this I wasn’t that good at talking to people.”

Volunteer, Diane Okun-Okhale said: “It’s a safe space for young children to learn, to learn about robotics, learn about artificial intelligence – it’s the future of work – and to give opportunities to kids from maybe challenged backgrounds.

“It’s for everybody really but you find that there are certain groups that might not have that much opportunities as the others and so this is that opportunity for them to come in, to learn, be in the same space and learn different skills beyond the tech.”

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