Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
Inspiring students, one robot at a time.

Girl Power


Entry ID #: 9114
Created: Tue, Dec 8, 2020 11:32 AM

Alexandria Hale 35594B Girl Power             Over the past few years, our school system has been offering summer camps for students in grades five through eight.  During these summer camps, we have taught a variety of things; the name and purpose of the parts, as well as the way to build and program robots.  Over the past, I have been able to visit Mountain Brook and Oak Mountain schools numerous times to train with their robot coordinators.  I have also spent countless hours watching tutorial videos of the VEX IQ robotics competitions.  Since our recent club creation of GEMS (girls excelling in math and science), we have had a great deal of interest in creating an all-boys club.  This fall we plan to start a few boys’ teams that will compete against our girl’s teams.  A gender divide persists in STEM education, and female graduates' interest in STEM lags behind their male counterparts.  Our girls in all grades have shown a great deal of interest in participating in a robotics program.  There have even been several high school girls who have said that they wished there had been an all-girls robotics club they could have joined years ago.  We have participated in many tournaments and we have seen firsthand that girl's interest in robotics is growing substantially.  There are approximately eight million STEM career opportunities that are vacant, and the number of young people pursuing STEM careers remains low, despite the growing demand for qualified applicants.  Winfield, Middle School is a Title I school with over 50% of our students receiving free/reduced lunches.  To adequately prepare a student to succeed in the current and future workforce we need to teach students the importance of teamwork, communication, and leadership.  Implementing robotics allows for connected computing, problem analysis, and collaborating while problem-solving.  Changing the culture in robotics classroom activities places students in designed learning environments where they are required to solve problems using CTP like abstraction, decomposition, and algorithms. We contend that designed robotics problems that require students to apply the Big Ideas found in CSP and CTP will better integrate their understanding of core computer science concepts with an ability to use that knowledge to solve meaningful problems. We have thirty-eight young girls who are interested in robotics, but sadly at this time, we are not able to fund the number of interested girls.  What this means is that if we are unable to come up with the funding for the purchase of more equipment we will have to turn away many of the girls who are just now starting to show interest in the STEM world of robotics.  Winfield Middle School is an Advanced ED/STEM Certified school, we were the first middle school to be STEM certified in Alabama.  Despite having many low-income families in our community, we strive for the best for all our students daily.  However, with the deficit in funding, and with many of our families not able to pay a club membership fee for these teams it looks like the growth of our program will be placed on the backburner.  Without acquiring the necessary funds for the build kits necessary for more teams we will be forced to letdown our students.  These students are very excited and would love the opportunity to participate in a VEX IQ robotics competition.  We feel that participation in a program like this would not only be beneficial for them in the here and now but also in helping them plan their futures.