By hosting weekly workshops for children, Grade 10 student Yashas Khatiwada is hoping to inspire the next generation with her love of robotics and coding.
“The kids who are in the program always let us know how much they are looking forward to our classes and how much they enjoy it! They especially love when we play games relating to coding and collaborating with their peers,” she said in a news release. “I have also had great feedback from the parents.
“The parents let me know that they loved the way their kids were being taught and their experience in the classes so they told their other family and friends about the program which allowed the program to have an overwhelming number of interested participants.”
Khatiwada, who attends Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School, launched the free workshops for children aged eight to 12 in January – at a time schools were closed to in-person learning and the province was in lockdown.
“It was very exhausting not having the ability to interact with my friends like we used to or do any extracurricular activities,” she shared. “I realized that it is even harder for younger kids as it is extremely important for them to have that social interaction they need and it is difficult to have that type of interaction through online school.”
In addition to imparting valuable knowledge on participants, Khatiwada hopes they find friendships among peers who share an interest in STEM activities.
The workshop series filled quickly, notes Ali Wilson, communications officer for the Wellington Catholic District School Board, in large part due to word of mouth through a messenger group.
The series runs through April. Khatiwada hopes to host more at some point but doesn’t have any firm plans in place.
It was during Grade 7, while attending St. Patrick’s Catholic School, that Khatiwada discovered her love of robotics and coding.
“I heard that there was a Lego Robotics Club running and out of curiosity, I decided to join the club. In the club, we assembled robots, learned how to code them and work through obstacles which had me instantly hooked,” she explained. “Since then, I joined the lego robotics team again in Grade 8 and continued my love for robotics in high school where I joined BM’s Robotics team.
“I loved the challenges, friendships, and unique experiences I got through Robotics which made me want to continue in the future.”
Khatiwada plans to pursue a career in STEM.
“My dream job is to be an aerospace engineer. I would love to design spacecrafts and help with missions in outer space,” she said. “I have always been fascinated with space and what lies beyond Earth and I love anything to do with designing, building, and seeing my ideas come to life.”