This past weekend, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) jetted down to Houston, Texas for weekend number one of the For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology (FIRST) Robotics Championship 2019. The second weekend of the championships takes place in Detroit, Michigan the weekend of April 24, 2019.
The theme of the 2019 championship is DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE.
At the event’s Innovation Faire in the Grand Ballroom of the event venue, SWE staff and volunteers caught the attention of many passersby with a clever “ring and chain” demonstration in which Newton’s Third Law of Physics creates an almost magical effect to the naked eye. Children and adults alike were baffled by the demonstration, all eager to try it out themselves. We even had a visit from SWENexter and Mythbuster Jr., Allie Weber! After numerous observations, trials and errors, most attendees were able to figure out how to replicate the desired effect. SWE’s eye-catching demonstration and conversations with attendees resulted in approximately 120 SWENext sign-ups from girls in the K-12 age range.
SWE has been part of the FIRST Alliance for ten years, a mutually beneficial partnership where both organizations have made a commitment to improve gender equity in STEM and in the workplace. FIRST provides an amazing program for students of all ages to get exposure to STEM. Still, FIRST reports that only about 30% of its participants are female. SWE is partnered with FIRST to help change that, but also to introduce FIRST participants to the SWE and SWENext community. In light of the statistics, it was especially inspiring to come across a few all-girl teams, like Eve Robotics and the Lady Cans (below).
It was exciting to witness so many bright, young minds working together to design, build and control complex robots, and encouraging to find so many young women pursuing their passion for STEM. We look forward to many more years partnering with and championing diversity alongside FIRST Robotics. Parents, guardians and educators—learn more about SWENext here!
Check out footage from the 2019 FIRST Championships in Houston, TX!