Highlights of Summer 2018 Outreach

Girls of Steel had quite the eventful summer of 2018! As always, we continued our annual outreach programs and camps, but we also introduced several new events and worked on expanding our reach through advocacy.

FIRST NAC, June 24-26, 2018, Washington DC

We began our summer activities by attending the FIRST National Advocacy Conference from June 24 to June 27. Four members of Girls of Steel had the opportunity to meet with many of our elected officials and advocate for increased funding for ESSA Title IV part A. You can read more about our trip here.

 

Chassis Building Workshops, June 25, 2018

The Girls of Steel had the opportunity to teach students from a high school in Beijing, China with our chassis project through the Gelfand Outreach Center. While many of the students were hesitant at first, once both of the chassis were built and driven, the students gained a lot of confidence in their ability to build robots. We were excited to see the love of robotics grow in these students’ eyes.

The opportunity to see the excitement for robotics grow in their eyes reminded me how I got excited about robotics in the first place!

 

Earthen Vessels Outreach Summer Camp Events, July 5 and July 13, 2018

The events that we attended with Earthen Vessels Outreach were amazing! In our first visit with the program, we read Rosie Revere, Engineer to a camp for 2nd graders. They had many questions about Girls of Steel and were excited to hear about the robots that we built every year! Due to the positive response from our first visit, Earthen Vessels Outreach invited us back to the camp so the kids could drive our outreach chassis kit. They loved hearing about how we built the robot, and expressed interest in continuing with FIRST in the future. 

Being able to see these kids so interested in robotics was amazing! They loved hearing about what I do on the team, and were practically bursting with excitement when we passed out our bandanas. I hope to see some of these kids on one of our teams in the future!

 

“Introduction to Robotics” at Gwen’s Girls, July 9-11, 2018

For the second year in a row, we held an “Introduction to Robotics Camp” at Gwen’s Girls on the Northside in Pittsburgh.  Last year we introduced robotics using FTC Tetrix kits and this year we used LEGO EV3 kits. We also use Snap Circuits kits to introduce electronics.

“I thought that it was incredible to be able to work with girls who have never worked with robotics before and seeing them have such an interest in it. They inspired me with the way they cooperated and worked together to build and how excited some of the girls were. It was true it rewarding and a learning experience for me personally.”

 

A demo for CMU’s AI4All participants, July 11, 2018

We offered a robot demo and presentation about Girls of Steel to this year’s participants in the AI4ALL program at CMU. At our practice field at NREC, we got to talk to a bunch of high school students from all over the country. It was fantastic because they were engaged in what we were saying and they asked a ton of questions. We had a nice conversation with them and many of them seemed interested in FIRST. One of the students even asked us how to go about starting an FRC team!

The outreach events where the audience is engaged is the best type of outreach event, for me at least. Getting to talk to people instead of just doing a presentation is so much more enjoyable. Since it’s more of a conversation than a presentation, it feels more natural and I feel like it encourages the audience to ask more questions. Since these kids were asking questions and eager to talk to us, they definitely interested. I think that when the audience in interested, that’s when you really reach them and make an impact.”

 

Robotics Feiyue, CMU, July 23 to August 3, 2018  & WVROX, August 3-4, 2018, WVU, Morgantown WV

This was the 6th year we hosted and TA’d at the Robotics Feiyue camp, a 2-week FRC Boot Camp, for students from China.  Some of the students are already on FRC teams and the others learn about FRC while learning to build a robot for the prior year’s FRC competition.  This year, of course, the students made robots for Power Up! and then they competed with us and 22 other FRC teams at WVROX hosted by MARS 2614 in West Virginia.  It was awesome that the Feiyue team, 9999, was on the winning alliance with FRC 179 and FRC 3538!

   “I loved meeting the Chinese students and working with them at Feiyue to build their teams’ robots for WVROX competition at the end of the two week period!  I learned so much from my experience at Feiyue and became close friends with many of the Chinese students, who were quick learners and hard workers. It was clear that the students not only learned more about robotics but grew closer together and learned the importance of teamwork and compromising.  I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in such an event!”

 

Aspinwall National Night Out, August 7, 2018

The Aspinwall National Night Out was a great event for everyone! We connected with many people, and there was lots of excitement from kids (and adults!) who wanted to help build our chassis, which is always really encouraging to see. I’m glad that we were able to be a part of such a fun evening!  We also had the pleasure of meeting State Rep. Elect Sara Innamorato.  

 

FIRST LEGO League Skills Camp, August 6 to 10, 2018

We have offered the one-week full-day FLL Skills Camp since 2014, the summer after our first year running two FLL teams, making this the 5th year!  The camp for boys and girls in grades 4 to 8 covers all aspects of FLL – robot, project, and core values – along with a reverse engineering activity and and ice cream social!  This year several campers continued with Girls of Steel and joined our FLL program.

“I really enjoyed mentoring the FLL skills camp again!  The students were excited to learn about robotics and do a research project on this year’s theme, Into Orbit.  They were great at teamwork and had a lot of fun learning programming skills, problem solving, and practicing presenting together.”

Sign up here to join our mailing list for team updates so you can apply to join us at camp next summer.

 

Meet up with Ivanka Trump, August 14, 2018

We rounded out our summer by meeting with Ivanka Trump to speak about our team, demo our chassis project, and tell her about our work with advocacy earlier this summer! Ms. Trump was excited to hear about our work, and we were even interviewed by KDKA, our local news station! You can read more about our meeting with Ms. Trump here.

Overall this summer was very productive and exciting! Girls of Steel got to reach a lot of people through our camps and other outreach events. Through advocacy, we not only got to reach people but we got to learn about our government and what we can do to make a change. Hopefully, next summer can be as significant as this one. 

Now we’re on to starting the 2018-2019 season, our 9th year!

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