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Girl Scouts Represent Robot-Building Girls in the First Lego League

Clever Girl

They might be in the minority — for now — but the Girl Scouts participating in the First Lego League, an international kids’ organization that promotes interest in science and technology, aren’t going to let being outnumbered stop them from becoming fierce competitors in the robotics field. And these fourth-graders will tell you straight up: “Legos aren’t just for building cute little brick houses anymore, skippy — we’re building some frikkin’ robots.” And then, those fourth-grade girls conquered the world.

The Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana were well aware of female underrepresentation in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and math — so they thought it would be a good idea to get some of their interested scouts involved in the First Lego League. As it turns, there were some girls in the local troops interested in robotics and Legos, including Hannah Troy, who patiently waited her turn while her father coached her older brother for the league. (He didn’t forget about her — she just wasn’t old enough yet.) Now Hannah and her friend Nicole Viz are both on First Lego League teams, competing alongside other kids ages nine to 16.

Here is how the competitions work:

Teams start preparing in September, designing and programming Lego robots. At the December tournament, teams attempt five missions they have practiced with their robots. Judges also score them on their teamwork in a question-and-answer session, as well as research projects that they present.

One person very interested in seeing more girls participate in competitions like the First Lego League is Hannah’s father, Pat Troy, who has been coaching the Comet Creators for years and has always been disappointed in the “small” number of girls who participate. Also a computer science lecturer at the University of Illinois at Chicago, he says the numbers still don’t grow enough to his liking as kids enter college. (Only about 25 percent of his students are female.) However, he notes that technology in the form of social networking might be one way to pique girls’ interest in computers:

“Boys are more likely to be into playing the computer games and getting into technology that way,” he said. “Most of the girls in high school are more interested in the social aspects of it, and once they understand that there are lots of social aspects to (science and technology), then it becomes much more interesting.”

Because science and technology is about problem solving, which benefits greatly from team work, and in order to have team work, you need to be social, don’t you? And that is what we call “practical application”!

Anyway, Hannah has learned a lot from her dad and hopes that her fellow female peers see that building and Legos aren’t just for the boys. (All they’d need to do is visit our site to know that!)

(Top pic and story via The Herald News via Mad Art Lab)

Previously in Girl Scouts

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