May 24 was an important day for Ayb School’s VR Lab team students Karen, Lusine, Hasmik and Saten, who were on tenterhooks waiting for the announcemenGenU: of the Generation Unlimited (GenU) competition’s first round results.
10 days earlier, UNICEF and UN Development Program gave start to a competition that involved Ayb Educational Foundation and UWC Dilijan. Generation Unlimited (GenU) is an idea competition, which aims to inspire young people aged 14-24 with brilliant new ideas to bring them to life.
Our team learned about the competition on Facebook and liked the format and objectives. In addition, it was the first competition of the kind to take place in Armenia. I should also note that our team’s virtual reality (VR) eyeglass project was left beyond Green Chemistry club’s program, as we had to focus on the bioplastics production. In fact, this competition offered a perfect opportunity to reactivate the VR eyeglass project and it did not take long to opt for participating in it.
Many of Armenian urban and rural school students do not have a laboratory or decent conditions to stage practical lessons in chemistry. Our team offers special VR eyeglasses equipped with an educational chemical program that will allow students carry out experiments even if essential materials and devices are unavailable.
Only 12 out of 60 projects were selected for the competition, and VR Lab project was one of those 12. The selection was followed by a bootcamp at UWC Dilijan. Due to the emergency caused by the pandemic, our school went digital to continue education on Zoom platform.
Forgetting about all other deadlines and exams, we dedicated 10 days to the competition. We talked to many experts and watched plenty of lectures to make our idea more clear. We felt joy and disappointment; we were excited and tired. Our team coordinator Tatev made a priceless investment in our work. She spared no effort to encourage us and always helped with advice. I must confess that never believed that the process of work is more important than the result, but now I comprehend that successful teamwork is the greatest achievement of these days.
As we were waiting for the announcement of the first round results, we were extremely nervous. To take the heat off, we engaged into a sincere talk, then some started playing the guitar, while the others exchanged ideas on social media. Our zoom room has never been so buzzing. For about a couple of hours we were singing “We Are the Champions” and “We Are the World”. We were talking to know each other and become closer.
We continued working on our project until the last minute before the presentation, adding or removing some elements. Everyone was worried whether we will be able to present our project properly. We thought, “What if we fail to stay within the allotted time? What if technical issues emerge?” However, everything went smoothly and VR Lab was announced among the top 5 best teams to receive USD 1000 for the further development of our project.
Now we face a bigger challenge. The second round is due in June, when two strongest teams will be selected to participate in the international competition in the United States.
“Irrelative of the results, we will push forth our project with all the enthusiasm we have to achieve significant progress next year and continue working on it as graduate members of Green Chemistry club,” our teammate Lusine says.