For the past decade, Marvin Hall has been on a mission to bring robotics to the children of Jamaica. As a trained mathematics teacher and educational technology adviser, in 2002 he began dialogue with Professor Mitchel Resnick of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) about bringing robotics education and MIT Media Lab's Computer Clubhouse concept to the island.
Later that year he visited Singapore to observe robotics projects at primary schools and through a collaboration with Lim Cheng Pier of LEGO Asia, implemented a robotics course and a robotics club at the American International School of Kingston
In 2003, Hall left the formal classroom to dedicate himself to helping children 'lego their minds' and explore technology through robotics workshops. "My parents encouraged me to do well. They had high standards and their influence stuck with me," Hall said.
Since 2003, through his company, Halls of Learning, he has embarked on a series of projects that saw him collaborating with institutions such as the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School, Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy, DigiPen Institute of Technology and corporate partners such as National Commercial Bank, Vickers One and Scotiabank to deliver educational experiences that equal, or exceed, international standards.
To date, Hall has taken six teams to compete in robotics competitions overseas where they have won three awards. Through its outreach programme, Halls of Learning has awarded scholarships to more than 600 inner-city youths to attend workshops in their communities.
Most recently, Halls of Learning, with the support of corporate partners PanCaribbean, Jamaica Money Market Brokers, Wisynco and Michi SuperCentre, conducted a series of one-day robotics workshops at 12 high schools, enabling more than 500 students to build and programme an autonomous robot. In August, sponsored by Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) through the World Bank, Halls of Learning delivered a seven-day robotics camp targeting youths from Whitfield Town, Jones Town and Federal Gardens.
For his pioneering work, Hall has been awarded a Reuters Digital Vision Fellowship at Stanford University and recognised as a TED fellow by the prestigious global conferences on Technology, Entertainment and Design, both firsts for any Jamaican.
"I have been able to stand on the shoulders of giants," Hall said. Pursuing your dreams is a tricky thing; in order to become accomplished you have to work on it every day."