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Robotics and coding competition returns to inspire young innovators at University of Windsor

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The Canadian International Robotics and Coding Competition returned to the University of Windsor this weekend, lowering its age limit to promote STEM education to children as young as four years old. 

After making its debut with just 32 students participating between the ages of six and 17 last year, the event expanded to welcome 150 students this year.

A junior category was also included this year, allowing for students from the age of four to participate.

The competition on Saturday inside the University of Windsor's CAW Student Centre gave participants an opportunity to build robots and work with coding software to perform a variety of tasks, such as navigating a robot through a maze, shooting a sports ball into a goal and flying a drone.

The teams consisted of students from local schools and community agencies.

"I always say this with them kids. We're not using technology. We're creating the technology," said Ahmed Zaki, founder of Genio-Tech which runs the competition.

"So we're not only competing and playing and having fun but we're building a mentality of the entrepreneur so they will create innovative stuff."

For Zaki, his hope is to see different versions of the competition take place throughout Canada where winning teams compete at a final event in Windsor.

"Hopefully, next season, we will see teams competing from all over Canada," he said.

Nine-year-old Arielle Green was among the 150 students who participated in Saturday's competition.

The fourth grader said she enjoys being able to experiment with coding and robotics because they are traditionally male-dominated sectors."

"It's really cool because there's not a lot of girls who do this. If you're discouraged or you're nervous, still do it. Girls can do anything boys can do," said Green.

Leen Kadri, an 11-year-old student in the sixth grade, said she finds robotics extremely interesting. 

"If I want, I can code it to go get me something from the fridge so I don't have to walk there," Kadri said with a laugh, before appealing to other kids who are not interested in STEM education to give it a shot.

"I think you should try robotics. You can actually learn to help people with it. It saves lives."

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