Seven energetic and especially technologically-minded high school students from the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy put their unique skills to the test at the Regional FIRST Robotics Competition in Knoxville, last Saturday.
Representing the CGLA Robotics Club, ninth grade students, Carlisha McKenzie, Kalia Dwight, and Britney Rice, and 10th grade students, Arrianne Hazelwood, Yarelis Forte, Amanda Lopez, and McKayla Jackson enjoyed competing with a robot that they had spent five weeks designing and building.
Founded in 1989, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) aims to inspire students to be science and technology leaders. CGLA, a STEAM-focused leadership academy, could not find a better program in which to be involved. And the girls in the Robotics Club are taking full advantage of the opportunities presented them at CGLA. Through exposure to programs like FIRST Robotics, at least one of the girls in the Robotics Club is considering pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.
“I’ve done some programming, but I got frustrated because I couldn’t see the process. I’m a hands-on learner and worker. I like knowing how something functions – it’s structure – how it’s built,” said ninth-grade student, Britney Rice. She is considering a number of colleges where she can study engineering – among them Smith College, Texas Christian University, and Texas Tech University.
The regional event in Knoxville this past weekend was a qualifying competition for the championship match in St. Louis. Though the girls will not be travelling to St. Louis for the championship, Mr. Caleb Bagby, club supervisor and technology instructor at CGLA expressed pride in how the students handled the challenges presented them at the competition. After doing a last-minute rebuild of the robot on the morning of the regional competition, the CGLA team made it to the field within the first match.
“The girls proved themselves and gained the respect of their FIRST Robotics peers. I think the judges and other teams were impressed when they discovered our team was made up of girls from an all-girls school. We were the only all-girls team there, and everyone quickly found out that we were a force to be reckoned with.”
The next challenge on the docket for the CGLA Robotics Club is a similar FIRST Robotics competition in Atlanta this October.