Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
Online Challenges

A Letter To Women Everywhere

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sbhsrobotics750
Entry ID #: 7483
Created: Sat, Jan 11, 2020 8:22 PM


Dear Every Woman Who Defied the Odds,

If it were not for the amazing, intelligent women in STEM like Grace Hopper or Maryan Mirzakhani, many of the girls in more recent generations would be disregarded and neglected in STEM fields. Every single one of those inspirational figures greatly impacted the way the world interprets “girl power” and “integrity.” Currently, girl power is defined as a term used in reference to an attitude of independence, confidence, and empowerment among young women. However, the meaning behind girl power is a lot more specific and valuable to us. Girl Power has allowed us to participate in many activities considered to be male-dominated, including robotics. If it were not for the term ‘girl power', we probably would not be writing this today. As a result, we fully endorse and support the Girl Powered organization, which provides multitudinous girls with the opportunity to tell their story and get more involved in their community. Girl Powered takes the expression Girl Power and exploits it to its full extent. Every person has something meaningful to share with the world, so they all deserve to be heard with open ears and an open heart. Our team consists of six girls: Katrina, Holly, Shailee, Meghna, Aashika, and Samyutha. We are here to tell you about our experiences to inspire younger girls to go out of their comfort zone and break free from gender discrimination everywhere. We are the girls of team 750W, and we are writing this to explain our stories and to thank you for yours. Our story begins… 

Katrina was initially brought into STEM from a class called Design and Technology she had taken in seventh grade. It gave a brief explanation of the design process and allowed her to use it in small projects such as making a paper roller coaster. Meanwhile, Aashika first got involved in robotics at the mere age of 10 and is now a 4-time Vex IQ New Jersey State Champion. She came 8th in her section at Worlds and now continues to build her knowledge of engineering/robotics through her role as Head Scout and Secondary Builder on Team 750W. Holly was first introduced to the engineering field when she was in fourth grade at a Girl Scout event. Determined to expand her knowledge on robotics, Holly joined her middle school’s “Makerclub,” which allowed her to explore different activities related to STEM and engineering. Additionally, Shailee first got involved with Robotics because of a friend who introduced her to the team in her school. At first, she never thought she would be capable of being a part of the high school robotics team until she actually went for it. Meghna’s interest in robotics was first piqued by her friend, Shailee, a fellow team member. Other factors that encouraged her to join the team was the fact that all the people in her life are mainly engineers or are studying in that field. Lastly, Samyutha first got interested in Robotics through meetings in the public library that would explain the functionalities of a robot and allow her to experience it for herself. Her interest developed as she got the opportunity to learn more about robotics via a thorough experience when taking the school encore. When her sister decided to major in a field of engineering in college, she got inspired to join the team. At first, a lot of us were wary to try out for the school’s robotics team and some of us even considered never returning. Despite the lack of our gender’s representation in robotics, we kept returning for every tryout and our stories ended up colliding. Together, we have grasped countless aspects of STEM and gained a better understanding of robotics and coding in general. Through our experiences on 750W, we have met so many remarkable people who have not only improved our building and programming skills but who have also accepted us for who we were and what we had to offer. After all, any team requires cooperation and communication in order to have a solid, strong dynamic and the ability to properly function. 750W welcomed us with open arms and provided us with a secure environment, cooperating with the girls of the team and allowing us to feel comfortable with sharing our ideas. Through this experience, we have all learned that not everyone is going to be as cooperative as our team, but we must be confident and prepared to face future obstacles that come our way. Leaders are fearless and ready to tackle any complication and any project. Leaders can be any gender and any race. We are leaders and we are ready for our future. Even if future groups do not accept us for our gender, we now understand that we are fully capable of building, programming, planning, communicating, and budgeting. We can do anything because we know of our importance through our own experiences and those of the women before us.          

Many female leaders from the past have inspired us to grow as people and keep putting in effort into everything we can. One of those very fearless, triumphant people was named Maryam Mirzakhani and she showed us that projects will take time and the pay-off often continues even after your life. She was a professor at Stanford University and she mainly focused on symplectic geometry. She ended up winning the Fields Medal and proved to the world that girls can accomplish anything and are as intelligent as males. Unfortunately, breast cancer took this brilliant, young female’s life at the young age of forty. Despite that fact, though, Mirzakhani continues to inspire us all and provide us with a pure example of what a leader is and does. She did not allow others to hold her back or tell her what she should do; therefore, she became the first and only woman and Iranian to win the prestigious Fields Award. In a way, she showed us how important we each are to the design process and that everyone has something important to offer. After further research, our team decided to create a similar impact that Mirzakhani inflicted on society as a whole. We agreed to start small and hold an event in our hometown in order to introduce robotics and engineering to younger girls in middle school. We brought together the girls of team 750W and went through ideas we could teach them that would kick start their interest in the field. Our concept was to be as educational and as fun as possible; therefore, the goal of the workshop was for the girls to create a functional arm made from straws and cardboard that would be used to pick up various items (as seen in the picture below). Before we began our demonstration, we first showed the girls a presentation about the high school team and the engineering process, so they would be able to apply this content to their creations as well. Our hopes were to influence all the girls that day, so that their robotics experience would not end there. These hopes were confirmed when we saw the smiles on the girls’ faces and their eyes lit up with enthusiasm as they discussed their new found dreams to be more involved with robotics. A lot of them got right to business designing and constructing their mechanical hands made from cardboard. The girls received little to no instruction on how to put together the arms, so the younger girls ended up all having their own unique designs. If it did not work, they did not give up and they kept referring to the design process. Redesign. That was the key to the design process and many of them acknowledged it. They walked away from that experience with their mechanical, cardboard hands and a grin on their face. This event showcased the fact that each member of 750W has an important role that adds to the team in multiple ways. The core of the team’s functionality is our ability to be open to each other’s ideas and perspectives and our cooperation with one another. Without the quality of teamwork within our entire team, we would not have been able to accomplish anything. Overall, we have one last note to tell the women who came before us: thank you for laying down the foundation for which we can build our futures. As Mirzakhani once said, “I hope [to] inspire lots more girls and young women, in this country and around the world, to believe in their own abilities.” 

Sincerely,

Katrina, Holly, Shailee, Meghna, Aashika, and Samyutha

The Girls of 750W