By Diana Goovaerts

YoMo opens doors to tech’s future

More than 30,000 students and teachers are headed to MWC Barcelona 2020 to get up close and personal with the latest technology has to offer as part of the fourth annual Youth Mobile Festival (YoMo).

Each year, the programme works hard to bring science and technology concepts learned in the classroom to life, offering children aged 8 to 16 hands-on encounters with everything from robots and 3D printers to miniature smart cities and virtual reality.

New to this year’s line up are a sports zone with an interactive LED game wall; an enhanced arts zone with a stand from Fundación Joan Miró; and a stand from CERN and the team behind the Hydron Collider.

The idea behind this diverse array of programming is to help students find the spark that will set their passion for science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) ablaze. And it works.

Carla Claramunt (pictured), a former YoMo participant who is now studying Informatics Engineering Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC) in Spain, told Mobile World Daily that for tech-loving students like herself, YoMo offers “a door to your future, where you can really see a real area of development and so many attractive and new things”.

Though she participated in STEAM-related activities at school, she noted YoMo took the experience to the next level, exposing her to new and exciting avenues to explore.

“Being in an event where there is so much technology gives you the opportunity to experience the love for it. At school, you don't have a chance to know the latest improvements in technology so it is very difficult for students to have an approach to STEAM careers.”

Claramunt said her interest in technology began in high school, when she joined a team to compete in a First Lego League robotics competition. Each First Lego League challenge has three parts, including a robot game where a team-built device has to complete a specific mission; a scientific innovation project; and a presentation showcasing applications of the league’s values.

Her team, called the Marrecs de Vilassar, qualified for both national and international competitions during her involvement.

Though she saw it as a game at the time, she said she realised the competition provided “real training for my career,” teaching her technical skills and the ability “to lead projects and to present them in public”.

Claramunt said participating in that programme also helped show her the importance of sharing ideas, adding it was a “fantastic” way to experience different cultures and projects from teams around the world: “I liked it so much that I wanted my career and studies to be related to technology.”

She explained her experience with First Lego League eventually led her to YoMo, which she sought to attend to share her end-of-high-school research project with a broader audience:

“It was a solution to reduce plastic waste…I had such a good experience with the project that I wanted to explain it to more people. So I decided to propose my school go to YoMo.”

Claramunt highlighted Lego robots, 3D printing and virtual reality as the three YoMo demonstrations which resonated with her the most. She called the latter “a great hook for a visual generation,” adding it’s “something that they are not able to learn at school yet”.

“When I went to YoMo I knew about virtual reality but I never had the chance to try it before. It was very impressive and appealing to know more about it.”

Her advice to this year’s YoMo participants? “Try to enjoy every place you visit inside, and ask a lot of questions to make the most of it.”

She concluded: “YoMo has been one of the most exciting experiences of my just-starting road in this passionate world of technology. A place to find whatever STEAM careers attract you.”

YoMo will be held at La Farga de L’Hospitalet, 25-29 February.