At the start of the day, Cora Stokes wasn’t sure about the robotics workshop her father signed her up for, but she was willing to give it a try. “I was nervous at first,” said the Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School fourth grader. “But now I’m sort of excited.”
The room full of girls ranging from third graders to high school seniors buzzed with teamwork, creativity, confusion and triumph during Girl Powered, a robotics workshop held last month at North Point High School. The science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) event also allowed students to build “21st century skills” like communication, collaboration, perseverance and creativity, said Simone Young, coordinator of STEM education for Charles County Public Schools.
“Studies show that females are underrepresented in STEM career fields,” Young said. “While there has been some growth, the gender gap still exists. This initiative is to build confidence in STEM through engaging, yet challenging tasks.”
Middle- and high-school student volunteers helped out where they could, but the attendees took ownership of their projects. They were tasked with building a robot and guiding it through an obstacle course ending in knocking down rows of blocks.
While some of the 58 girls signed up were novices, others were familiar with STEM projects. Autumn Smith, a North Point freshman in the engineering program, enjoys the hands-on aspect of the field. Taniya Henderson, a sixth-grader at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School, said the event was a good opportunity to learn more about subjects she’s interested in studying. The more people exploring STEM, the more ideas will emerge, she said. “We’re all trying to achieve the same thing, but we all have different ideas of how to do it,” Henderson said.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,900 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.