At the Jackson Mathnasium, fourteen-year-old Abby Little fiddles with her robot. “There’s a fifteen-second period where your robot has to do all the work, so right now, I’m trying to get that to work,” she explained.
Abby first started doing robotics last March. A group of her homeschool friends had been attending theCO’s weekly meetup, CO:bots, so she decided to join and quickly became engrossed in the world of robot building and competition.
“I like that you can come and build, and there’s no other pressure,” Abby said. “It’s about what is your idea and how do you use it.”
She heard that there are many grants available for girls. Interest piqued, she began looking into grants that could cover the registration fees for competitions. She found one through Girl Powered, an organization dedicated to encouraging girls to enter the STEM field, that offered the chance to receive a kit of robot parts valued at almost $1,300.
She sent in her grant application, which included writing about what her goals with the grant were and how she would grow as a person and programmer as a result. She received the grant and is already working on improving her robot.
While she’s learned programming, as well as to pay attention to things like battery levels and grabbing the right controller to do things like put together her linear motor, she also had to learn higher math, such as trigonometry concepts, including sines and cosines.
Her mom, Billy Jo Little, credits her daughter’s experience at theCO with some the positive changes she’s seen in Abby since then.
“What I’ve seen is just a growth in her confidence,” she said. “She’s not a typical kid, so she doesn’t necessarily fit into certain groups [. . .] for her to come to theCO, have people who have similar interests who just accept her and allow her to grow and ask questions.”
Billy Jo said that she is grateful for the inspiration and encouragement Abby has received to be “different” and more confident through theCO.
“It [CO:bots] does encourage more girls to come and be involved in the programming side of it,” she said. “I truly believe that none of that would be available if theCO wasn’t there, supporting it.