WALL-E, the robot that cleans rivers of waste, invented by 11-year-old children coordinated by a teenage girl

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Bucharest, 24.11.2022: The National Science Fair CODE Kids 2022 brought to Bucharest the best robotics projects made by children between the ages of 10 and 14, mainly from rural areas. Their technological solutions solve real problems of the communities they belong to, from sensors that warn you when you’ve reached the consumption threshold of 255 KWh, to anti-bullying mobile applications. 13 clubs from across the country pitched their ideas to a panel of business professionals and received awards for local libraries that host free programming and robotics clubs offered by the Progress Foundation.

The big winners of the CODE Kids 2022 National Science Fair are the children of the Crazy Coders club from Liceul Tehnologic Turceni (Gorj), who received the First Prize and the Public Prize for WALL-E robot, the enemy of PETs that pollute the waters of Jiu. It collects aquatic waste, being controlled using a joystick and a mobile application. It is based on Arduino technology and contains GPS, a video camera and an audio module, protected by a sustainable housing, built from objects collected from the children’s own households.

If coding teams are usually coordinated by librarians, in the case of this club it was a teenage girl who opened her own club when she went to high school. At the age of 17, Bianca Badea, the youngest CODE Kids coordinator, is in charge of 3 clubs. She says that: “We didn’t even expect to pass the regional stage, especially since we are at our first participation. It was a wonderful experience for me and the team. We want to give a special thanks to Progress Foundation because through this wonderful project, children discover their passion for robotics and programming. We have a message for those who want to join the CODE Kids clubs and participate in the next Science Fairs: be creative and, in addition to imagination, have the drive to create new technologies in our country!”

The second prize went to the CODE Kids Club Bunești (Vâlcea) for the Smart Solar, a project through which children applied the principle of automation to help their parents in their agricultural activity. They transformed an ordinary solar into an intelligent system for the use of natural resources, making the work of farmers easier and maximizing their harvests.

The third prize went to a project proposed by 3 coders from the Club Călători în Viitor, Crâmpoia (Olt). They created the Bullying Detector project, an app built in App Inventor that detects toxic bullying behavior through voice recognition, and reacts to it with warning messages. This phenomenon of unfortunate proportions present in schools all over Romania can be reduced with the help of the application, which displays various answers on the phone screen depending on the words used by the user. One of these little programmers, Mirela Bădălan, also won the Grand Prize of the Green School of the Future educational competition, organized in partnership with the Vodafone Romania Foundation, for a project on sustainability built in the Scratch application.

The National Science Fair CODE Kids 2022 also sparked the interest of authorities, through the participation of representatives of the Ministry of Education and the Authority for Digitization of Romania. In his message to young Romanian coders, the president of ADR, Dragoș-Cristian Vlad, emphasized that “Digitalization has a future, through you! Through your eyes, digitization turns from ideas and goals into reality. You represent a core of digital skills and, through what you do, you contribute to the Romania of tomorrow. Your energy and enthusiasm, the skills with which you managed to create so many extraordinary solutions, lead us to a single conclusion: Romania has a future!”.

The National Science Fair is part of the CODE Kids – Program the future of your community project developed by Progress Foundation and aims to create a coding and STEM movement where children, young people and librarians from rural and small towns develop their digital skills and get involved in the life of the community they come from, by solving digital and creative themes. This year’s edition of the fair had as its main sponsor Societe Generale Global Solution Centre, and funding from the Romanian-American Foundation, Centrul Cultural Expo-Arte, Thoughtworks, DelicioUS, CEZ Vânzare, as institutional partner the Authority for Digitization of Romania and media partners Radio Romania Cultural and Biz Magazine.

About CODE Kids and Progress Foundation
CODE Kids has turned into the largest national coding and STEM movement in 6 years of operation, with more than 4,600 children from 33 counties benefiting from free programming courses organized in public libraries. In 2022 there are 110 active clubs nationwide, in which 1200 children are enrolled, thus transforming public libraries into true community hubs. CODE Kids is the flagship project of Progress Foundation, awarded in 2022 in Brussels at the Emerging Europe Awards competition with the top prize in the Future-proof Education category.

Progress Foundation is a non-governmental organization, established in 1996 in Bistrita, which contributes to the development of community institutions, vulnerable individuals and groups and helps people become stronger through education, technology, research and innovation. The organization supports citizens to evolve, realize their potential and achieve well-being in sustainable and resilient communities. Through the partnerships created, the Progress Foundation focuses on facilitating lifelong learning, transferring innovation, creating IT and STEM skills, and developing new methodologies for participatory design and social inclusion. In order to achieve its goals and to reach any social group, the organization uses public libraries and community spaces in villages and cities as focal points of learning and centers of social innovation.

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