Volunteer story - Ruth James: Why do I do this?

I became a OMG Tech Ranger after my friend Matt, (who runs the coding workshop at OMG Tech) recommended I ‘give it a go’! The first event I help out with was in South Auckland, at ParkJam; there were 4 Tech Rangers (including me!), 6 robots and a endless supply of eager participants! Ever since then – I’ve been part of the Robots team!

At this point – I’d like to point out I DON’T come from a robotics or electronic background, I’m not an engineer and I don’t know any programming languages! BUT, I have worked in the NZ tech industry for the last 9 years and for the last 2 years I’ve been involved with a number of initiatives encourage kids to get into STEM (especially software engineering and computer science!)

There’s a global shortage of skilled IT people in the industry, and as tech becomes bigger (which it inevitable will!) – this will only perpetuate unless we make some radical efforts to improve the situation.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just doing this so we can fill all the vacancies in the tech industry! As Steve Jobs put it ‘Everyone should know how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think!’

For me, tech isn’t about being a lone code monkey drinking energy drinks and eating pizza (which the common social stereotype seems to portray!)! It’s about problem solving, working together collaborative, following your passion, doing something that will create benefit to the end user and solving real life problems! Through all the OMG Tech workshops we run, we encourage all our students to see tech in the same way!

Not only do we encourage our students to think differently we encourage them to learn differently. The robotics workshop we run is based on tactile and collaborative learning. Most students work in pairs when programming their robot, they learn by trail and error and build up a resilient and agile mindset while doing so. As someone who’s dyslexic, and remembers that feeling of anxiety and frustration when learning classic classroom methodologies such as ‘chalk and talk’ or text book learning. I understand the importance of allowing students to experience their own personal ‘eureka’ moment! I think this is the BEST way to learn anything!