By Kaitlyn Ludlam
As a high school girl, I can definitely say that many girls my age are finding it difficult to have confidence in STEM environments and clubs. In a First Tech Challenge robotics team of 15 members, I am one of three girls. Even though I am on the team, it is very difficult to get my male teammates to accept me as part of the team.
For a year I had been advocating for girls in STEM and I have been working to try to get more girls on my robotics team, but they don’t feel welcomed or equal during their first couple meetings. Since I most definitely want to be an engineer when I finish high school and college, I decided to put my problem solving skills to the test.
I worked with our robotics coach, Rachael Schofield, to start a SWENext club at my high school. After two months of planning, paperwork, and communication, the club was official before winter break began. I wanted to create a positive environment in which girls my age can develop abilities and interests in STEM. After about ten meetings, we have done multiple design challenges and thinking puzzles. We also applied and received a $1,000 grant from Generation Wow’s Wow United Grant to “Spread the Word of STEM” to local Title 1 elementary schools. We are purchasing STEM-inspired children's books to donate to their school libraries. We even partnered with my robotics team to create a video to share with local students to educate them about STEM. Our main goal is to change the STEM atmosphere so that it is normal to have girls in STEM clubs and teams.
Outside of school, I have mentored an all-girl First Lego League robotics team. It is important to get girls strong, female mentors in STEM to show them that it is indeed possible. I taught them how to program, I assisted them in building and strategy, and I showed them what I was accomplishing on my First Robotics Competition and First Tech Challenge Robotics Team. As a rookie team, they made it all the way to State Championships and they have no trouble finding confidence in STEM.
About Kaitlyn Ludlam
My name is Kaitlyn Ludlam, but I go as AstroBot Kaitlyn. I am an aspiring Biomedical Engineer and astronaut. I am a huge advocate for STEM, which I do every single day. I am part of two First Teams (First Tech Challenge Team, Aluminati Industries, and First Robotics Competition Team, Team Resistance). I have also enjoyed mentoring the all Girl Scout Team, Aquabots! I am also a Student Space Ambassador (SSA) with The Mars Generation and a public speaker. I have spoken on a congressional panel representing SWE for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, awarded scholarships to a girl to got to robotics camp, and much more. You can follow me on all of my adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as AstroBot Kaitlyn.
Watch a First Coast News Segment on Girl Scouts in Robotics and more videos from Kaitlyn on YouTube: