“We pave the sunlit path towards justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.” ~ Tim Cook
Building on almost forty years of work to grab little girls’ interest in the iconic Lego Brick, elementary and middle school students now experience S.T.E.M. opportunities through tiny Lego robots as part of the FIRST LEGO LEAGUE. SWE members of FRC 5145 WolfBotics competitive robotics team from St. Francis Catholic Academy in Gainesville, Florida have combined with SWE members of the University of Florida in mentoring and supporting local schools in the North Florida area.
WolfBotics is in its third year as part of the FIRST organization, competing in the high school division with a large-scale fully functioning robot. The largest, and most established robotics league for over 25 years, FIRST is an international non-profit youth organization with the mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders. FIRST’s philosophies align very closely to SWE’s mission.
The FIRST LEGO LEAGUE targets students in grades 4-8. Kids research a real-world problem and design, build, program a robot, then compete on a table-top playing field. The students at St. Francis Catholic Academy hosted schools for a qualifying competition event, whose theme was recycling. According to FIRST, “The TRASH TREKSM Challenge asks teams to explore the hidden but fascinating world of trash. They must also invent a solution to help our trash problem and create their own LEGO MINDSTORMSÂ robot to accomplish trash-themed “missions” on a playing field, and show how well they practice FIRST LEGO League Core Values.”
As part of WolfBotics’ passion and commitment for outreach in educating the community in the importance of women leaders in S.T.E.M. jobs, the high-school students successfully modeled, mentored and led during the qualifying event, the Florida Lego League Swamp Stomp, which recently held its inaugural match. While WolfBotics’ Captain, Alexandra DiCairano served as hands-on mentor to area elementary schools during the build season, many members came together as volunteers for the event. Former Captain and current Mechanical Lead, Mary Alice Klink noted, “It was pretty spectacular seeing all the females head up this event. We had women engineers as judges and volunteers. We had friends and mentors from UF’s SWE chapter. All in all, it was a powerful message to our community about how girls feel about S.T.E.M.” Having been interviewed by the local news station, Alexandra reflected after the event, “It was a terrific turn-out of schools from the area. We were pleasantly surprised to see all the young girls! We’re happy that we could show families and friends the importance of supporting their daughters’ dream of moving into math and science-oriented careers. Once a girl sets her mind to it, there’s no stopping her!”
“You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe. And you are capable of amazing things.” ~The Lego Movie
The WolfBotics Community strives to help young girls realize this potential.