The winning Pace Setters Team from Ijaiye Housing Estate Senior Grammar School in a group photograph with U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli (third right) and U.S. Consulate Deputy Public Affairs Officer Jenny Foltz (second row, third left) with Lagos State Commissioner for Education Folasade Adefisayo during the closing ceremony of the drone soccer competition in Lagos on Saturday.
BY DAYO ADESULU
The United States government is committed to supporting programs that promote STEM education and provide students with opportunities to contribute to creating sustainable and inclusive economic prosperity in Nigeria.
On Saturday, the U.S. Consulate General in collaboration with the Global Air Drone Academy and the Lagos State Ministry of Education hosted Africa’s first drone soccer competition in Lagos.
Eight girl-led teams selected from 71 student teams from public high schools across Agege, Alimosho and Ifako Ijaiye communities of Lagos Education District 1 participated in the keenly contested competition.
The Pace Setters Team from Ijaiye Housing Estate Senior Grammar School emerged as the winner of the tournament. Alisgrams Team from Alimosho Senior Grammar School and Alpha Team from Abesan Senior High School took second and third place positions respectively. The three best performing teams won a prize of a $1,500 STEM lab each for their respective schools.
Delivering remarks at the grand finale of the tournament, U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli highlighted the importance of STEM education to Nigeria’s future prosperity and economic competitiveness.
He explained that the tournament was designed to provide the students with quality technological learning opportunities and stimulate their interest in math and science, as well as careers in the STEM fields.
“We are so proud to partner with the Lagos State Ministry of Education and the Global Air Drone Academy to not only bring practical, hands-on STEM education to the Lagos school district but also to offer the opportunity for representing schools to show off their STEM skills in drone soccer, the world’s newest sport,” Ibelli said.
Co-founder of the U.S.-headquartered Global Air Drone Academy, Eno Umoh, explained that one of the key objectives of the program was to engage underserved communities, especially young girls, about the impact they could have in STEM fields.
“We are beyond excited to be pioneering the newest emerging e-sport in Africa. Drones are an innovative and engaging tool that can be used to inspire students to pursue education and careers in STEM,” Umoh added.
The drone soccer competition was a follow-up initiative to a series of drone technology and STEM training for 500 students as well as a capacity building workshop for 50 teachers on effective approaches to teaching STEM subjects which were held in 2021 in Lagos Education District 1.
Drone Soccer is the world’s newest e-sport played with flying quadcopters in protective plastic exoskeletons designed for full-contact gameplay. Drone Soccer is the only educational robotics competition that is also an international sport, sanctioned by the World Air Sports Federation (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) in 2018.