As an active Girl Scout and member of Allentown High School’s robotics team Redbird Robotics, I have always been an advocate for girls to get involved in STEM activities primarily populated with boys. Coaching RoboGirls, a FIRST Lego League (FLL) team consisting of Girl Scouts from Allentown and Robbinsville, since freshman year has been an amazing experience.
In FIRST Lego League, teams consist of 2-10 students from fourth grade through eighth grade. In each robotics season, FLL teams research a real-world engineering challenge, develop a solution, and compete with a Lego-based robot of their own design. Each robotics season has a new theme to the competitions.
This year’s season was called Cargo Connect, where teams explored how to improve the transportation of products and transportation systems. Teams are judged on four components: The Robot Game, The Robot Design, The Innovation Project, and Core Values.
For the Robot Game, FLL teams must design a robot to complete 18 different missions that are located on a flat table. Each mission is a different structure made out of Legos and represents a different type of exercise equipment. Teams score points depending on which missions and how many missions they complete. Teams must be strategic about which missions they choose to compete because the robot match is only 2 ½ minutes long and each mission is worth different points. This season RoboGirls designed and programmed a robot to complete 14 missions.
For the Innovation Project, FLL teams must identify a problem and create a solution relating to the competition theme of transportation. RoboGirls designed a pet harness called the Bella Belt to help safely and efficiently transport live animal cargo in a small aircraft.
On Saturday, November 20, 2021, RoboGirls celebrated their 3rd year participating in robotics competitions by competing in their virtual qualifying tournament against 24 like-minded teams. RoboGirls earned the “Motivate Award”, which is given to a team that embraces the culture of FIRST Lego League throughout team building, team spirit, and displayed enthusiasm.
“Robotics is about more than just robots. I’m glad to have my friends that I made along the journey,” says Victoria, one of the teammates on RoboGirls, “The Girl Scout motto of being a sister to every Girl Scout directly aligns to the FIRST Core Values of teamwork, discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, and fun!”
RoboGirls’s success does not come overnight. The girls have worked diligently at least twice per week in-person and virtually since August alongside their youth mentors Melissa Domen and Emily Keller. Both youth mentors are especially beyond proud of witnessing the girls’ growth throughout the years and their appreciation for STEM. The RoboGirls are also excited that Melissa was named “Youth Mentor of the Year” for the third year in a row at the recent qualifying tournament.
As RoboGirls commemorates their current successes, they also look back from where they started. During their rookie year competing, the team won the “Rising All-Star Award”, which is given to a team that the judges notice and expect great things from in the future. They certainly lived up to the judges’ aspirations.