Young Female Roboticists Offer the World an Impressive Image of Croatia

Lauren Simmonds

As Novac/Nikola Patkovic writes on the 3rd of June, 2019, although they’ve only just stepped out into the often confusing teenage world, they already have virtually defined their life goals. In their case, it’s easy to talk about a group of very young girls who are offering the world an outstanding picture of Croatia.

These youngsters from Osijek, sisters Jona and Nika Važić, Helena Floreani and Klara Uranjek, are students from Osijek who are working alongside their counterparts from Đakovo, Iva Mijakić, Ana Švegli and Marina Ćurković. At first glance, the group look no different to your typical group of young girls, who don’t appear to differ remotely from their peers. However, if you dig just a little below the surface, surprising and impressive details of the lives of these girls who, when leading by their own example, could be models and a stimulus not only to their peers but also to numerous adults across the country who would prefer to do little else but complain.

Apart from the fact that they are all excellent students with an average of 5.0, all of these young girls have a whole host of additional interests and activities. Volleyball, dance, acting, athletics, gymnastics… these are just some of them. However, the reason they’re so interesting lies in what connects them all, namely, programming and robotics.

Jona, Helena, Nika, Klara, Iva, Ana and Marina are the cream of the crop of Croatian programmers and roboticists in the competition of students from the sixth to the eighth grade in elementary school, which has recently been confirmed at the Croatian Super League finalists of the Croatian Makers League organised by Nenad Bakić, who has been the founder and the biggest populariser and developer of STEM area development in Croatian primary schools for a few years now.

After they were declared the best in Croatia last year, Osijek locals Helena, Nika and Klara came to Zagreb last weekend for a competition consisting of 40 teams and around 150 contestants under the guidance of Tomislav Pandurić, where they took home the title of vice-champion, while their friends from  Đakovo, Iva, Ana and Marina, brought the bronze home.

This time, gold went to boys from Križevci, but the girls still went home more than proud of their acheivements.

”Although we didn’t manage to defend the title, of course we were satisfied, especially since the competition had also advanced, so it wasn’t easy to get such a good result. In addition, the task we had was very difficult, so our success meant more. To be the second in the competition of 40 teams from all over Croatia is a big thing and we’re very happy with our performance,” the youngsters from Osijek are all in agreement and happy with the results.

Their friends from Đakovo also said that they had been expecting a high ranking.

”Because we’ve been at the top of Croatia for years, as we’ve now confirmed. However, we had some minor problems and half an hour before the end of the program we realised that we’d be unsuccessful, but in the end, we still managed to get through and we did a good job,” said the students from Đakovo.

This time, the topic at hand was ecology. All of the teams had the task of programming robots so that they could perform tasks such as waste sorting, as well as hold mutual communication between two robots.

They say it was difficult and a tense experience. They only spent about three hours programming, during which they were left entirely alone and with their knowledge, and mentors could no longer offer any help.

Their task was to program mBoot to pass through a tunnel that changes its lighting level, so the timely detection of that change with the help of a sensor has to be taken into account, not to mention the robot’s ability to continue going down its path without hitting the tunnel walls. After that, the robot had to detect the colour of a certain card, each of which meant a different type of waste, and after detecting it, he had to find a cube of the same colour and move it to the place foreseen for that kind of waste. Then, he should send a message to another robot, who should return to the start of the road on the same route. From the results, it’s obvious that the girls did their job very well.

When their teacher was asked why this segment is full of girls, and where all the boys are, the teacher laughed and smiled at the successfull girls from Slavonia and said that the girls drive them off when they start talking.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.


Click here for the original article by Nikola Patkovic for Novac/Jutarnji


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