SHANGHAI, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Chen Zhiyuan is just nine years old and already he's programming with a computer, remotely controlling a robot.
Supported by coding, the robot travels to various destinations, completes its tasks, and returns, having used its mechanical arms to lift and push garbage to simulate garbage sorting and transfer.
The robot was designed and made by Chen and two classmates at his Shanghai school. They entered the 2021 World Educational Robot Contest (WER), an international robot event for young people, held in Shanghai recently.
This year's event attracted about 940 teams from around the world. Chen's team have worked with robots for five years and studied programming for three.
"Programming is necessary for designing robots. We have to calculate speed, strength and travelling range to complete a task accurately and quickly," says Chen.
His mother has encouraged him with a computer to explore programming. "One day I hope to invent a robot that can walk on land, swim in water and fly in the air," he says.
Teammate Wang Xiayan is a member of school's programming club. His passion for science and technology stems from an automatic-sensing hand sanitizer device designed by his teacher. He wants to help others with his inventions.
Young Chinese like Chen and Wang are emerging in growing numbers as China's government encourages programming studies in primary and secondary schools.
In November 2019, the Ministry of Education required schools to prioritize artificial intelligence and programming among other courses.
Founded by the World Educational Robotics Society about 10 years ago, the WER has seen a boom in Chinese entrants in recent years and also their increasing interest in programming, says Gao Yuan, who manages the event.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 500,000 young people, aged three to 18, applied to enter the WER, Gao says.
Chen Jiaxing, a high school student from Macao, also took part this year. Through programming, his interest in machinery and software has deepened.
"I get a strong sense of achievement when I complete a task with a robot of my own design. I'm considering further study in the field of software engineering," Chen says. Enditem