About 30 girls attended this sleepover, in grades 7 through 12. The group was split into small teams with experienced FTC mentors leading the way. Each team was given a set of instructions to build a Jersey Bot and a Tetrix kit of parts. Once the Jersey Bots were assembled the teams competed with a modified FTC game. Later, more complicated challenges were introduced and the teams built attachments using LEGO and Tetrix parts and re-programmed their robots with simple autonomous and tele-op programs. After a few matches, the game became even more challenging and the girls modified and re-program their robots. The weekend included pit decorations, building robots, and team bonding games including relay races, trivia and a campfire with s’mores. The event culminated with very exciting championship matches.
The teams embodied the FIRST core values through friendly competition and exemplified gracious professionalism. They shared ideas for attachments, strategies, and the most effective programming methods. Because many of these girls had never used screws, wrenches, or Tetrix components, this camp also introduced new skills.
Getting young girls involved in STEM is important. With a growing technological industry, it’s important that girls learn about options in STEM such as engineering and computer programming. These girls can embrace science and technology and eventually be the generation that closes the gap between men and women in STEM careers.
FIRST Robotics is a fantastic way to do achieve this goal. Engineering might be an intimidating field to pursue but FIRST Robotics puts us all on a level playing field. When the new challenge is released at the season kickoff, everyone is at the exact same starting point. Classrooms can feel like male dominated environments and girls may choose to not express themselves nor their ideas. Robotics encourages a real-life application of science and math concepts, in a FUN, competitive environment. FIRST not only values engineering techniques, but the learning process along the way with designing, building, programming, planning, community outreach.
Introducing girls to FIRST robotics builds confidence in their interest in science and technology, and encourages them to pursue STEM careers. Our G.I.RL.S. Robotics camp is just one fun way to get girls interested in participating in FIRST but it could make a difference in many lives.
This blog was written by Sanjna Ravichandar of FTC team 6037 and a student at UW Madison. If you are interested in blogging for blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule.