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posted: 1/28/2018 7:00 AM

National grant gets more girls involved in local robotics

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LOGANSPORT, Ind. -- Ten-year-old Adyson Mosby knows exactly what she wants to be when she grows up.

"I want to be an engineer so I can build robots to do things for people," the Landis Elementary School fourth grader said.

And with the help of her school's robotics team, Mosby is well on her way to reaching that goal. Mosby's not alone in that quest either, thanks to a national STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - grant called Girl Powered.

In conjunction with VEX Robotics, Girl Powered grants are given to schools when the population of its robotics team is at least 50 percent female, according to Girl Powered's website. The purpose of the grant is to give additional tools and resources needed for girls to succeed in robotics and STEM related curriculum, the website also stated.

This is the first year that all four Logansport elementary schools - Columbia, Fairview, Franklin and Landis - applied for and received the grant funding, which requires each school to have at least one all-girl robotics team.

Recipients of the Girl Powered grant also receive a full robotics kit - complete with robot, controller and extra parts - and a waived registration fee.

But what the girls really get is self-esteem, confidence and opportunity, Fairview Elementary School third grade teacher Ashli Scott said.

"It's girl power all the way," she said smiling. "It (robotics) is not just a boy's thing. This is for everybody. And for our girls, this opportunity means they're not answering to a boy. It's their bot. They make the decisions."

The sentiment of robotics not just being a "boy's area" was shared by many recently at the VEX IQ robotics challenge at Fairview Elementary School, where all four Logansport elementary schools participated.

While waiting for her all-girls team to compete, Franklin Elementary School fifth grade teacher Kristie Hostetler reflected on how important opportunities like robotics are for all of her students, but especially the girls.

"If you look at statistics, they will show you that STEM has grown in the workforce," she said. "So if we have experience for these girls, they will be able to see that they can do it and be excited without thinking, 'oh, this is just for boys.'

But while the increase in STEM jobs may be increasing, the amount of women filling those roles is still relatively low.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 44.3 percent of full-time wage and salary workers in 2016 were women. However, women only accounted for about a quarter of computer and mathematical professions and about 14 percent of architecture and engineering jobs.

That's why reaching young girls in elementary school through a concept like robotics is important, Columbia Elementary School speech assistant Alicia Iles said.

"My sister's an engineer, and she's said before that in all the offices she's ever worked at, there's been at most three women. And one's usually the receptionist. So having this for young women going through and learning these skills, I think it's going to open up their opportunities a lot."

Iles' daughter, Isabelle, is a member of Columbia's all-girls team, and that prompted Alicia to take just a minute to talk about what something like the Girl Powered grant means particularly for her family.

"It's very important," she said, looking at her daughter. "I feel like giving her the opportunity to learn everything she can before she makes that choice of a final career is huge. I want her to have all the opportunities that the boys have in school and have all those skills so that when she chooses, she doesn't feel like she only has a small selection."

Because it's so much than just robotics, all the teachers that were interviewed said. It's about inspiring those young females to dream big and follow whatever career path they choose.

"It doesn't matter what job they're going to go into," Hostetler said. "We're talking about life skills. They're going to take that everywhere they go. They can do anything they want, and this field (STEM) is so vast and has changed so much, think of what it'll be like when they're ready to enter in. And they'll have all these skills to take with them."

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Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune

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Information from: Pharos-Tribune, http://www.pharostribune.com

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