Building Robots in School

Published: 3.29.2018
Level 5   |   Time: 3:09
Accent: Ugandan, British
BBC Global News Podcast (3.14.2018)

A program called Fundi Bots in Uganda is giving students the opportunity to build robots in order to increase creativity and hands-on skills.


You can download the file [ HERE ].


triangle Directions

  1. REVIEW the vocabulary.
  2. LISTEN to the audio.
  3. ANSWER the questions.
  4. CHECK your answers (Show Answers)

triangle Vocabulary

  • pupils [n] - students
  • hands-on skills [exp] - practical skills (doing something)
  • found [v] - establish a business
  • a craftsman [n] - a person who builds things
  • assemble [v] - build, put together
  • a gadget [n] - a small machine or device
  • optimum [adj] - best
  • automate [v] - make something function without human control
  • an obstacle [n] - a thing that blocks one's way
  • a collision [n] - one object hits/strikes another object
  • apathy [n] - disinterest
  • fiddle with [phv] - try to make minor changes or improvements
  • from a point of ignorance [exp] - offer an opinion without personal experience
  • nurture [v] - encourage and develop

[n] - noun,  [v] - verb,  [phv] - phrasal verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression

triangle Questions

  1. Who is being given the opportunity to build robots?
    school children
    university students

  2. Why are they being given the opportunity to build robots?
    To develop practical skills
    To encourage students to work hard
    To develop creativity

  3. What does the woman mention about Fundi Bots?
    It was founded by Solomon Hill.
    It was founded 7 years ago.
    Fundi mean "fun" in Swahili.
    Fundi works with 60 schools.
    Fundi works with about 300 students.
    Fundi only works with schools in Kampala.

  4. The robot that they describe _____.
    has two wheels
    is easy to make
    was made by a university student
    looks like a toy

  5. Solomon mentions that _____.
    the robots are very expensive.
    children in Africa often can't afford expensive toys
    African schools usually don't have a lot of toys

  6. What can the robot detect?
    The fastest route to get to a destination
    Obstacles that are nearby
    The voice of the person controlling it

  7. What can the robots do?
    They can react to light.
    They can react to sound.
    They can go over small hills.
    They can make decisions without human help.

  8. How do most of the schools react to the Fundi Bots robot program?
    They are very excited.
    They are curious.
    They are mostly disinterested.

  9. What does Solomon say that most schools focus on?
    Helping students pass tests
    Preparing students for their job
    Giving students knowledge.

  10. What does Solomon think that schools should focus on?
    Helping students pass tests
    Preparing students for their job
    Giving students knowledge.

  11. How does Solomon think the host should react if his son takes apart his radio?
    He should be annoyed.
    He should punish his child.
    He should buy his son a new radio.
    He should encourage his son to continue to explore.

  12. Does Solomon have children?

  13. What mistake does Solomon think that many parents make?
    They give their children too much freedom.
    They focus too much on their children's grades.
    They make too many decisions for their children.

  14. What is Solomon's philosophy about raising children?
    Let children explore and find their own interests.
    Don't put too much pressure on children to get good grades.
    Help children study until they can make decisions by themselves.

triangle Script

How would you like to be able to create your own robot? In Uganda school, pupils and university students are being given the materials and support they need to create simple robotic machines as a way of encouraging hands-on skills. Solomon King founded Fundi Bots seven years ago. Your Global News podcast fun fact of the day is that fundi means craftsmen in Swahili. Fundi Bots now works with 60 schools and over 3000 students. Allen Kazuga went to visit Solomon and some of the young people he's working with at their robotic workshop in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

So this in particular is a type of robot. It's like the next version of the robot that we are building to help kids especially the younger kids. And so it's a nice little two-wheel robot that is very easy to build and assemble.

And it just looks like a toy I'd make or a toy used to make when I was a kid.

So the thing about children in Africa is that many of them are actually building their own gadgets. You know many of them don't have access to the kind of resources that you know expensive toys require. And so many of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, we had to build our own toys. But now we are in a place where we can automate those toys. And this was the dream that I had as a child. What if this little thing building would actually move.

Obstacle detected within one meter. All system optimum. Initiating collision avoidance. Please stand by.

Once a child has built a robot, they have a long interest in the robots. They are saying I can actually make something react to light. I can make it react to sound.

So they go for more complex things?

Yes they've got more complex things, but they also go for solving solutions within their communities just like the students behind are doing.

Thank you. Goodbye.

Solomon, so you go to a lot of schools to try to get them to warm up to this idea of learning. Well what sort of response do you get?

The biggest response really is a sort of apathy.


Yes. Apathy. Because many schools are very focused on helping students pass examinations, and it's less about the actual knowledge. Ultimately education is not about passing tests. It's not about a certain grade. It's about knowledge. It's about knowledge and how you apply that knowledge to your daily life. But also in Ugandan context and a lot of African countries, our context is that we are teaching less and less practical science in the classroom.

If I come back from workw one day and I found that my son had opened up by radio and fiddled with it, should I be annoyed?

Ahhh, yes because it's an expensive radio. But ultimately I think that it's something that you should encourage in a more creative way because this is someone who is trying to understand the world around them. I think, and this is from a point of ignorance because I'm not a parent, but I think the mistake that many parents make is that they make decisions for their children. My personal philosophy is let the child explore as much as possible and see where their interests are and then nurture those interests.

You are clearly not a parent.

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