KINGSTON - A group of 10 girls at the Kingston and District School are getting a crash course in building a robot.
Dubbed the Sisters of Science, the nine- to 11-year-old girls formed a First Lego League team in September.
“It was really fun when we all got together for the first few meetings and were building everything,” said nine-year-old Carmen Glavine.
“We were trying to decide what kind of robot we were going to build and what we were going to name it.”
The fun doesn’t stop there. Choosing a name for the robot is one of the easier tasks the group will undertake this year.
The team will learn how to make the robot to perform specific actions, or missions, in upcoming league competitions.
“The next few meetings, I think we’re going to start programming it, so that’s going to be fun,” said nine-year-old Kenzie MacNeil.
Gary Walsh from Acadia Robotics recently attended one of the weekly Sisters of Science meetings to talk about the basics of programming.
“They’re all so engaged and so excited,” said Crista MacNeil, one of two adult facilitators volunteering with the group.
MacNeil turned to Acadia for help getting the robotics group going after discovering her child, Kenzie, was old enough to participate.
“We wanted to get them right away so we could help them build their confidence and get engaged in science and technology,” said MacNeil, who coaches the group along with engineer Sara Chisholm.
With the help of community partners and sponsors, the Sisters of Science were able to secure $4,000 to purchase laptops for each team member.
The laptops, MacNeil said, “will enable them to learn and practice the skills needed to program the team’s robot, as well as to develop confidence in learning how to program computers.”
MacNeil’s workplace, Michelin, donated $2,000 and another $1,000 in matching funds to help the team reach its goal. Sisters of Science secured an additional $305 grant through Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and various local businesses offered financial contributions to support their cause.
Moving forward, they’ll focus on prepping the robot for a regional competition in November and tackling the league’s Trash Trek environmental challenge.
“They will be challenged to identify a problem with the way we make or handle trash and design an innovative solution to the problem,” said MacNeil.
“We’re having a lot of fun with it.”
About Acadia Robotics
- Acadia University’s Robotics Program, presented through the Jodrey School of Computer Science, has a junior program, First Lego League and a senior program called Robofest.
- Acadia hosts the Provincial Robot Programming Championship in February. The event generally attracts more than 400 participants.
- This is the 10th season Acadia Robotics has partnered with First Lego League.