Greek region has pulse and future – Champions in Robotics
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Greek region has pulse and future – Champions in Robotics

Several times in Greece’s periphery, important events take place that unfortunately do not get the attention they deserve in the traditional media. And when these events have to do with children and students, then their importance is multiplied, as they also give the stigma, the pulse that beats loudly with the future in sight.

This is the case with the success of the Vytina Primary School, which won 1st place in the Peloponnese Regional Robotics Competition. This was preceded by the 2nd place in a Robotics Competition in Nafplio in 2018, when the team “Vytina Robotics”, presented the project entitled “Arcadia Planitia”.

The project involved the creation of a fictional colony of humans on the neighbouring planet Mars, covered by a glass dome to sustain life (Mars’ atmosphere is only 0.14% oxygen, while Earth’s is 21%). In addition, the colony’s protective shield is ready to activate and protect the dome in case the detector telescope detects a space threat (meteorite, cosmic rays) (Mars’ atmosphere is very thin – 25 teratonnes compared to Earth’s 5,148 teratonnes – so the planet is perforated by meteorite impacts).

“We had spent many hours outside of school to create a ‘smart parking lot’,” says Sotiria Katsigianni, now 18. The idea of the students and their then young headmaster had literally swept the whole village away. “When I later went to secondary school and met children from other villages in the prefecture, they asked me with interest about the projects we were implementing in the primary school.”

For Sotiria, hard work and perseverance were the crowning glory for her team’s winning 1st place from the Vytina primary school in the Peloponnese Regional Robotics Competition.
As she explains, it was always a step ahead. For example, “for the needs of the competition, I had familiarized myself with the programming language Scratch, which I later found in front of me in my computer science class”.

But this success did not come by chance for Vytina. Over the past ten years to demonstrate significant achievements of the students of the primary school under the tireless guidance of their principal. Since 2010, when John Karountzos started at the school, he has been aware of the needs and made long-term plans.

In an interview, he says he is a native of the area, which he says is important since the problem “is that teachers, mostly substitutes from different parts of Greece, are essentially transients, collecting credits so they can move to where they want to teach.”

In 2012, despite his young age, he took over as principal of the elementary school. “We were a group of young teachers, most colleagues had no teaching experience, but they had parchment. There was a time when we had two teachers with PhDs, one with three master’s degrees and two others with two master’s degrees and respective foreign languages.”

Since then, the five-seat school has begun a steady, upward trajectory. It inspired the students to take up robotics and the Vytina Robotics team, Vytina Robotics, went on to win the second national robotics award in 2019. In 2018, Yannis Karountzos participated in the summer school “Playing with Protons”, where he was trained in the dissemination of science, technology and innovation at CERN, a unique experience that he generously passed on to his students.