Watching her older brother compete in their school’s FIRST® LEGO® Robotics League, Johanna knew she wanted to be on a team when she was old enough. Her time came last year when she was in fourth grade, but it wasn’t the experience she hoped it would be. She was only one of two girls on her team, and when tasks were assigned, she felt pushed out by the boys from the opportunity she really wanted to try: programming.
When she was with her team at the program tournament, Johanna saw the answer to her problem – an all-girl team!
Ready to tackle the new scenario this fall, Johanna recruited girls from her own Troop 53722 from Afton Lakeland Elementary and convinced her mom to take the role as lead volunteer.
New to the volunteer role within the program, mom Angela connected with another mom who was overseeing a junior high girls team. They arranged for both teams to work on their projects in the same space, which created the opportunity for the older girls to mentor the younger girls. Angela was also able to observe the other mom when she worked through the tasks with her team.
Since September, Abigail, Andrea, Emily, Emma, Johanna, Kylie, and Tina have worked together to create a robot that can complete missions tied to the theme of “Nature’s Fury Challenge: Prepare. Stay Safe. Rebuild.” At the beginning of the season, teams were given identical kits that contained several bins of LEGOS, three motors, and a black computer brick in which students program sequences to navigate the surprise course.
Allowed the freedom to choose which natural disaster they wanted to learn more about, the girls chose tsunamis and branded themselves the “wave riders,” complete with team t-shirts. In preparation for the tournament, the girls researched tsunamis and built a robot that would be able to tackle unexpected problems.
At the tournament, the girls were judged on completing missions, their technical knowledge of the robot and computer programming, teamwork and values, and a presentation of what they learned through the project.
The team placed fifth in December, and the entire troop is aglow in the realization of what they accomplished.