Downingtown Area Robotics recently hosted their second Robotics & Programming with LEGO Mindstorms NXT TechGirlz TechShop at the Technical College High School- Brandywine (TCHS-B). The TechShop was ran and organized by FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1640 students. The full article with additional pictures was originally published on the Downingtown Area Robotics wiki page.
On September 23, Downingtown Area Robotics [DAR] hosted an all-girls workshop sponsored by TechGirlz, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit dedicated to educating girls in various STEM topics, and ultimately, reducing the gender gap in technology occupations.
The workshop was a second collaboration between Downingtown Area Robotics and TechGirlz. DAR students Laura and Akhila stepped up to organize this event; preparing the lesson plans, securing the necessary materials, coordinating with TechGirlz, and recruiting and training additional instructors (Meghana and Sai).
In this TechShop, DAR team members Akhila, Meghana, Laura, and Sai led the girls through two difficult programming challenges using NXT [Lego] Mindstorms kits. First, the girls developed a program that had their robot follow a line using purely directional code. They used math and critical thinking skills to work out the problem, and the success of their work was followed by another, more difficult, challenge. This one taught the girls how to use the built-in color sensor to follow a blue line taped on the floor. Throughout the TechShop, attendees learned about various programming tools including sensors, “MyBlocks”, line followers, and much more.
Additionally, DEWbot XIII [one of the FIRST Robotics Team’s competition robots] made an appearance at the beginning of the workshop, as team members drove the robot and even shot balls at students. This feature inspired the girls to continue to pursue robotics and STEM in the future. The goal of this TechShop was to generate excitement for STEM, and show the girls that joining the currently male-dominated field is far from impossible.
The workshop was a wonderful success and we look forward to following up with more.