I just got back from a robotics practice tournament at Intel this morning, an event where schools and clubs participating in the FIRST Lego League, come to learn, and make the necessary mistakes before the real thing.
One thing that clearly stood out was the increasing number of girls in these clubs. I have been attending these events with my team for about three years now, and began to see the change last year, as robotics begins to go mainstream.
This is exciting for many reasons, as we educators try to break the stereotypes as to what kinds of engagement suit whom. This is not to discount the many teams with young men who are very passionate about robotics.
In a guest speaker slot a meteorologist (above: he was brought in because this year’s challenge is ‘Nature’s Fury‘) asked the kids questions about weather sensors and ‘data’, and a few kids knew what a ‘servo’ was. They instantly got the GIGO (garbage in, garbage out’) concept. I’ sure many other coaches and parents were pleasantly surprised at the questions they (girls and boys) peppered him with. And that was after the girls did swimmingly at the tables, changing attachments, modifying move blocks etc.
Intel must be excited about this girl momentum. I have heard from many tech folk there how they are trying to bring in more women into engineering, so in about 12 years, when these kids are about the graduate from collage, there’s going to be a rush to grab them into the workforce.