Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
Online Challenges

In Her Words: First Step Checked on the Path of STEM


Entry ID #: 3086
Created: Sun, Jan 8, 2017 8:30 PM

There are three girls, Jacqueline, Caroline and Cindy. They have been on the robot team for about one year. When they are not working on robots, they are good friends, worrying about homework and talking about pop songs they like. However, when they walk in the room of the Robotics club, they all become little scientists. And they are serious. They participated in the VEXIQ Challenge as a girl-powered team not long ago, and they enjoyed all the fun, tears, and achievements.   How do you define the VEXIQ Robotics Challenge? Caroline: In my opinion, this is a robotic competition including many steps: manipulating, coding, and structuring, and each step is very essential to the final production, and it shows us what robots can do. And the challenge is also about cooperation within the team, and with other friendship teams as well. Jacqueline: Though I’m a girl, science has always been attractive and interesting to me, especially robotics. VEXIQ Robotics Challenge is an entrance to the world of robotics for juniors like me. Every time I think about VEXIQ, things and ideas come up to my mind and I would love to grab and share them, and make them real. Exploring in the STEM world with my BFFs is definitely fun for me. Cindy: Well, it is a competition which needs us to spend a lot of time working on the robot together. For me, there has been so many difficulties during the challenge; however, the challenge also made me realize that I can go beyond myself to overcome difficulties.   Why did you join this group? What’s the connection between you and robotics? Cindy: Before I joined the club, my family and friends didn’t really understand me and my love for robotics. They thought robotics wasn’t a very decent hobby for me, and for girls. I wanted to prove them wrong. I joined the group and worked hard to show them what I am capable of, and that I can actually make achievements. However, the girls’ team has impressed a lot of people—families, friends, and also the boys in other groups. I hope our group will keep making everyone impressed and also, make ourselves satisfied. Jacqueline: Actually I wasn’t familiar with robots a year ago. However, I wanted to learn more about different STEM skills, and I always like to finish something together with team effort, so I joined the club. And we (the girls) just hit it off, and we became really good friends. Caroline: I joined the group because I am fond of coding. I always hoped to be the programmer of the team and contribute to our team. Girls can code, and even better than boys. That’s what I wanted to prove to the boys. Another reason is that I got to learn from other members’ experience. I wasn’t so good at manipulating, so I wanted to practice and improve the skill by observing others.   What are some advantages of a girl powered team? Caroline: Girls are careful and responsible. Boys always leave something behind, and usually it’s us that help them fix the things in the end. Cindy: I think girls are more sensible. We would walk in the room and start to make out a plan: who is doing what. Boys would just keep fighting over the controller. Jacqueline: With girls, a team will be well-planned and fully-cared. The boys can’t see the full frame of the situation sometimes, but we can help them.   What are your roles in the group? Caroline: Programmer. I write the program for our robot. To achieve our goals, I must learn a lot about Robot C and be fully aware of our robot. Jacqueline: Leader, and planner. I make plans for our team, for example, schedules during the competition, when and where to practice with other teams, etc. I don’t see myself as the leader of the team. I mean, everyone has their main roles, but we all work together to finish tasks. Cindy: My main job is to establish the robot and control it. I also help collecting everyone’s comments and suggestions to make changes.   What have you learned from VEXIQ?  Cindy: I’ve learned the importance of team work. We all have many different ideas, and we would discuss and come up with the plan that works better, for example, whether to maintain the model and practice more, or to change the model to improve its efficiency. And I saw the power of team work. Three brains are more effective than one. If one of us has some new ideas but is stuck, the other members can be there to see further and add on the new idea. Caroline: It has helped me to learn more about robots and let me see the beauty of the robotics and coding. Other people may think coding is complex, and it’s difficult to understand the language it use; but to me, it is clear and simple. The challenge also broadened my vision and gave me different ideas of robots. Before the challenge, we just practiced within our own team. When we competed with other groups, we saw what they achieved, we saw a lot of different ideas and we learned from them. Jacqueline: Cooperation and of course, more knowledge. For example, when we are practicing with other teams, it’s not just the controller’s job. I also need to tell them our route and how our robot works. I totally agree with Caroline that the challenge has broadened our vision about robotics. During the challenge, I got to think about the application of robots in daily life. For example, we designed our model to be able to pick up balls of irregular sizes. This kind of model can be used in clearing up small-sized waste at construction sites.   Where does failure fit in? Jacqueline: I have to say that sometimes you just can’t expect when failure will come. I remember that the day before the competition, we wanted to add the coding of a control program with photoelectric sensors and gyroscopes. However, we just couldn’t get them right. After many trials, we decided to use only gyroscopes to control distance. We then went through coding and adapting the data over and over again until midnight. On the day of the competition, we kept trying and adapting during the preparing time. Our modal worked successfully 8 out of 10 times when we were preparing. However, the other 2 times of failure all happened when we competed. We were very frustrated at the results, but we still see it as a valuable experience because we also learned a lot from all those failed trials.   Any suggestions for other girls? Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek actress and former NASA Ambassador, once said, “Science is not a boy's game, it's not a girl's game. It's everyone's game”. The three girls never want to be the same as others, “Why not do what you like and impress everyone!” They want to shout out to all the STEM girls and have decided to go further on the STEM path. They say that robots can be fun and a great hobby, and girls can do well as anybody else can as long as strong they have strong determination. As the amazing Go Go Tomago from Big Hero 6 once said, “Woman up!” Team member: 姚喆烨(Caroline)、周宜嘉(Jacqueline)、楼一澄(Cindy)


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   ZhangJieYun on 01/17/2017

Well done!