Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Fast Thinking Girls Take the Lead in FIRST Robotics

Motorola Solutions Foundation is a longtime Girl Scout collaborator via its Innovation Generation Grants program, which encourages girls to pursue twenty-first-century careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The foundation has demonstrated amazing leadership in supporting girl-centered programming through FIRST Robotics (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology). Since 2007, the grant program has benefited thousands of Girl Scouts participating on robotic teams.

The Fast Thinking Girls, an all-girl robotics team from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, is one of 14 FIRST LEGO League-level teams at the council. During their first regional competition in December 2015, the team took home the Champion’s Award, qualifying for the state tournament. Check out what’s next for the Fast Thinking Girls and their advice to other girls who want to join a robotics team.

Tell us about your robotics team and your robot. How did you get involved, and what does this experience mean to you? 
One of our team members’ brother and sister were doing it and it looked like fun. We really love science and math and the idea of robotics. So when Girl Scouts asked us if we would like to form a team from our troop, we said yes! Our robot is very colorful. It's small and compact and has many sensors and attachments. We all have a lot of fun together and are friends outside of robotics.

What makes your robotics team unique?
We are an all-girl team and that helps us because we agree on most things and we like to be very colorful—with our robot, our outfits, and even our personalities.

How has Girl Scouts helped you think outside the box?
Girl Scouts is a lot about mentors and we had a lot of mentors from Wildstang, the local high school team. They helped us by giving suggestions for being more unique with our work and our project.

What advice would you give to girls interested in joining a robotics team?
Spread out the work and don’t leave it to the last minute! You might find that you like one portion of the work better and another teammate likes to do another portion. That makes up a good team.

How has Girl Scouts impacted your life? 
Girl Scouts has helped us learn about and research new things, and create, design, and talk to specialists and professionals to help create our solution. It has also given us the tools to learn how to communicate better within our team and resolve conflict. [Girl Scouts has] given us support every step of our journey and shown us that our ideas are important—and even provided money to help us during the season. We have taken some classes about engineering, and [Girl Scouts] invited us to talk to a group of engineers about our solution. We think being on a team with just girls is better.

What’s next for your robotics team? 
We are really excited for the new season because the theme is Animal Allies, and we all love animals. Over the summer we went to Washington, DC, for the FIRST Global Innovations Awards ceremony and met teams from other countries like Canada, Germany, and Spain. This year we hope to win the Champion's Award at State and possibly go to the world competition.

GSUSA is thankful to Motorola Solutions Foundation for continuing the collaboration for the 2016-2017 robotics season.