The youth of the Laloki community, just outside Port Moresby, kept occupied during the school holidays by participating in the ExxonMobil PNG (EMPNG) supported PNG Flying Labs, a local non-governmental organisation, where they attended basic coding and drone flying classes.
Under the theme "breaking barriers", the three-week workshop introduced thirty-seven young learners, nearly half of them girls, to digital tools that promote team building, the importance of well-being, and problem-solving skills through computer game coding, robot building, and drone piloting.
"Without EMPNG's assistance and endorsement from Laloki Ward 1 Councillor, Hon. George Pote Girisa, we would not have been able to train and expose these children, especially young girls, to this Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) based program,” said PNG Flying Labs Co-Founder Sophia-Joy Soli.
"We are also grateful for EMPNG volunteers visiting our classes to share their professional experience with our young participants."
The participants proved eager to learn new skills.
"After the first day of hands-on training, I was so grateful that my dad encouraged me to join the course," said 12-year old Paul Kaluwin.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, EMPNG's Public Policy Manager, Sam Koyama, encouraged participants to share their knowledge from the workshop.
"Motivating our students to value their education is a driver that we need here in Papua New Guinea. It is everyone’s responsibility to not just learn, but pass their learning on to others in our respective communities," Sam concluded.
PNG Flying Labs was conducted with the support of EMPNG’s Science Ambassador Program (SAP).
Since 2013, more than 5,000 Papua New Guinean students have participated in SAP with EMPNG volunteers visiting 90 classrooms across PNG LNG Project areas and Port Moresby schools to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders.