Cedar Rapids Gazette: Iowa Students Gaining Interest in Robotics, Other STEM Programs

Thursday, November 21, 2013

When Angelique Nijimbere first joined a group of six other middle-school girls to build robots over the summer, she wasn’t excited.

But now, just a few months in, she and the rest of Team Sparkle Bots have gone from not knowing what an allen wrench is to creating a  working robot that’s fit to compete with robots made by other student teams from across the state. Their robot moves on its own — one of the attributes that makes it a robot — and the girls built and programmed it themselves, with the help of their coaches.

“To be honest, I wanted to join because I wanted to do something new, and I knew it might not sound fun, but I was like ‘OK, I’ll try it,’” Nijimbere, 13, said during a robotics competition at Mount Vernon high school this past weekend. “Once I got the hang of it, I loved it.”

Team Sparkle Bots, a Girl Scout team made up of seven girls from Roosevelt Middle School in Cedar Rapids, is one of more than 100 teams of middle school and high school students that have joined the First Tech Challenge Program (FTC) since it first launched in Iowa in the 2009-2010 school year.

The team got started because Jessica Britton and Raquel Faulkner, who also work at Rockwell Collins, believed that the students who were being exposed to engineering in Cedar Rapids lacked diversity. So Team Sparkle Bots is made up of black middle-school girls.

Now, the two women are incredibly proud of what the team has accomplished.

- See more at: http://thegazette.com/2013/11/21/iowa-students-gaining-interest-in-robot...

When Angelique Nijimbere first joined a group of six other middle-school girls to build robots over the summer, she wasn’t excited.

But now, just a few months in, she and the rest of Team Sparkle Bots have gone from not knowing what an allen wrench is to creating a  working robot that’s fit to compete with robots made by other student teams from across the state. Their robot moves on its own — one of the attributes that makes it a robot — and the girls built and programmed it themselves, with the help of their coaches.

“To be honest, I wanted to join because I wanted to do something new, and I knew it might not sound fun, but I was like ‘OK, I’ll try it,’” Nijimbere, 13, said during a robotics competition at Mount Vernon high school this past weekend. “Once I got the hang of it, I loved it.”

Team Sparkle Bots, a Girl Scout team made up of seven girls from Roosevelt Middle School in Cedar Rapids, is one of more than 100 teams of middle school and high school students that have joined the First Tech Challenge Program (FTC) since it first launched in Iowa in the 2009-2010 school year.

The team got started because Jessica Britton and Raquel Faulkner, who also work at Rockwell Collins, believed that the students who were being exposed to engineering in Cedar Rapids lacked diversity. So Team Sparkle Bots is made up of black middle-school girls.

Now, the two women are incredibly proud of what the team has accomplished.

- See more at: http://thegazette.com/2013/11/21/iowa-students-gaining-interest-in-robot...

Following is a link to a Cedar Rapids, IA, Gazette feature story on the lack of diversity in engineering programs that is moving Rockwell Collins employees to start and mentor a robotics group.  It is based on a FIRST Tech Challenge event held at Mt. Vernon High School last weekend.

http://thegazette.com/2013/11/21/iowa-students-gaining-interest-in-robotics-other-stem-programs/

during a robotics competition at Mount Vernon high school this past weekend. - See more at: http://thegazette.com/2013/11/21/iowa-students-gaining-interest-in-robot...