Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road was awarded grants totaling $21,500 from Toyota and Motorola to provide exciting and challenging robotics experiences to girls in central and northern Kentucky during the 2012-13 membership year. The Council provided robotics workshops to 141 girls and organized two regional FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams for girls in grades 4-8, one in central Kentucky (Bluegrass Robotics Team) and one in northern Kentucky (Licking Valley Robotics Team). Robotics helps girls develop critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and team work skills.
Robotics workshops are designed to introduce girls to robotics and increase their interest in engineering and technology. Girls learn how to design, build and program LEGO WeDo or NXT Mindstorm Robots. Girls met and talked with women in STEM careers. Girls on the FLL teams developed STEM and leadership skills by assisting with workshops.
Both FLL robotics teams competed in the Engineers of Tomorrow Regional Tournament in December 2012 in Mount Washington, KY. The two Girl Scout FLL teams were the only all-girl teams out of 40 teams at the FLL competition. The two teams came very close to advancing in their local tournaments, and all the girls plan to return to the FLL teams during the 2013-2014 school year. This means 100% retention of these girls at an age where girls often leave Girl Scouts for other extracurricular activities.
Girls on the robotics teams completed a pre-and post-survey to determine improvements in STEM skills and interest in STEM careers. The program was most effective in
introducing girls to women in STEM fields. The robotics program was successful in increasing the following specific STEM outcomes:
- The number of girls who reported participating in STEM activities outside of school increased from 75% to 100%.
- The number of girls who reported knowing a woman in a STEM field increased from 50% to 88%.
- The number of girls who reported knowing how science makes a difference in their life increased from 88% to 100%.
- The number of girls who reported that “Science is fun! “ increased from 88% to 100%
Kristina Rouland, Robotics Project Director, said, “The hands-on quality of this program makes it very appealing to the girls. Many of them have never had the opportunity to program a machine, and a surprising number of girls had never played with LEGOs.”