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Pallotti High School’s RoTec Team heads to Panama City

Photo: Pallotti High School girls that will be attending challenge in Panama

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Oct. 17, 2023

Four exceptionally talented young women from Pallotti High School in Belize City are set to represent the country at the 2023 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge in Panama City on Thursday, October 26.

Irian Jones, Amber Wright, Osvani Magana, and Alair Marin, collectively known as RoTec, will be participating in this global competition aimed at addressing societal challenges through innovative technology solutions.

The 2023 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge is an event with a regional focus, and Belize is enlisted to participate in the Latin American competition, which this year will be held in Panama City.

Out of a staggering 6,500 regional applicants, 10 Belizean schools submitted proposals that were singled out for consideration, which ultimately culminated in Pallotti High School’s selection.

RoTec’s ambitious project centers on the creation of “Smartz,” a smart blind stick designed to assist visually impaired persons in Belize. Comprising two crucial devices, this innovative solution includes eyeglasses that provide protection from the head to the lower chest and a walking stick that protects the lower part of the body up to below the abdomen.

The inspiration behind this idea stemmed from a visually impaired student at their high school who faced significant challenges in navigating her surroundings. RoTec was determined to improve her life and the lives of others facing similar difficulties.

The journey to get here, however, has not been an easy one. After a tedious 3-4 months of discussing, planning, meeting, and working on this project, these girls also had to learn to balance their school and personal lives.

“For this whole competition, we needed to prepare. We needed to prepare during school time and during the weekends. Sometimes in the evenings, we needed to stay back to practice and all that, and that was nerve racking, because we also needed to focus on our homework. During the weekends we barely got to spend it at home or with friends, because we had to come to school on Saturdays, and on Sundays we would usually have meetings, and then on Monday it was back to school again,” RoTec member, Magana told us.

Another one of the challenges RoTec faced was the skepticism of their peers, who doubted their ability to reach this stage. RoTec remained committed, however.

The competition consists of three stages, for each of which a winner will be declared: the “Samsung Community,” decided by judges’ evaluations of each group’s proposal video outlining the problem and proposed solution; the “Virtual Community,” determined by the public’s likes and shares of the video on YouTube; and the “Proposal Debate,” where a panel of evaluators assesses the team’s project presentation.

The prize for winning the competition, however, remains a well-guarded secret.

“We are looking forward to honestly just doing our best; to come back to Belize and bring home a win, because we are not only representing the school and ourselves, but the country. We want the best for our country, and even though things might not end how we want them, if God wants it to be like that, then it will,” shared RoTec member Marin.

Looking ahead, RoTec aims to continue collaborating with the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (BCVI) to conduct extensive test trials on participants, in order to gather valuable feedback for further enhancements to their innovative devices.

Their previous victories, such as winning first and second place in the Meteorological Service Competition ‘23, are an indication of their determination and readiness to excel in various arenas.