Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Smart Girls: smashing stereotypes, one robot at a time

The really cool thing about being a self-rescuing princess is that you get to do sooooo many super fun things, and never care whether they've been deigned "for girls" or "not for girls" by some stuffy old windbags acting as the Gender Police. Fun stuff like building robots to take over the world! Mwahahaha!

Oh, wait... I mean... not take over the world. Just fun, friendly little robots that scoop up balls and throw them into baskets. Yeah. That's totally what I meant.

But seriously, check out these six smarties, the Rubies, and their awesome AND adorable robot! Left to right: Ava, Rachel, Adelaide, Izzie, Isabella, and Mitra. Together, they make up the Rubies FTC Team #9890, the first all-girl robotics team from Minneapolis, Minnesota. As part of the Velocity Vortex challenge, they compete against other students their age, as each team designs, builds, and programs a robot to play a floor game against other teams’ robots. It's a challenge that requires a wide variety of skills: STEM skills like engineering, physics, math, coding, and the link; but also social skills like marketing and outreach as each team needs to build a network of sponsors and supporters.

The Rubies go into each season with the goal of squashing the assumption that girls in robotics are only good at the social skills. "We want to show that with hard work and persistence, a girl’s team can compete, achieve success and earn respect for both technical and management skills." These girls have been working together for several years, starting out in the Lego League before aging into the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) program two years ago. They are now in the middle of their second season, and are already winning high praise and awards! In their first tournament this season they came in second over all in the qualifying matches, and were captains of the winning alliance. In their second qualifying tournament, they came in first!

These girls aren't just about winning, though. They're dedicated to encouraging other kids to join the fun of robotics. This year alone, they've mentored five new robotics teams and run regular "Robotics 101" workshops, all while they prepared for competitions themselves. "​As the first all-girls FTC robotics team from Minneapolis, we are dedicated to empowering young women in engineering and spreading robotics programs to people who previously lacked the resources to participate."

Check out their website, or follow them on social media: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Check out this great story featuring the Rubies and another all-girl team, the Ponytail Posse.

Photo source: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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