Meet the Rah Rah Robots, a Girl Scout FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League Team from Fayette County. The girls just wrapped up a great rookie season, winning an award for their research project and advancing to a Super Regional event in Columbus, Ga. on Jan. 16, 2016.
This team is part of a larger initiative by Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta and Girl Scouts USA to encourage more women to pursue degrees and careers in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) fields. Thanks to a grant from the Motorola Foundation, Girl Scouts are able to fund teams like the Rah Rah Robots all across the United States (girlscouts.org).
FIRST Lego League is just one level of robotics programming offered by a New Hampshire based non-profit founded by an inventor and entrepreneur, Dean Kamen. FIRST was the brainchild of Kamen and his collegue, Woody Flowers, a professor at MIT. Initially the goal was to form high school aged robotics teams to make technology fun. Over the past 25 years, FIRST has expanded to include programming for students in grades K-12, in the United States and across the globe. In fact, in 2015 there were more than 400,000 students worldwide participating in FIRST programming (firstinspires.org).
Here in Fayette County, FIRST has a large presence, with several different schools and community groups forming teams. The Rah Rah Robots are a group of registered Girl Scouts ranging in age from 4th to 7th grade who began meeting in August 2015. From then on, the team met weekly for two to three hours to prepare for competition. They chose their name after the Rah Rah Raisin Girl Scout cookie and to express their excitement about taking on this challenge. And it was quite the challenge!
FIRST Lego League sets the stage for students to solve a variety of problems. First, there is the Lego robot that must be programmed with computer software to complete tasks. Next, the team is required to devise a research project that presents a real-world solution to a problem, which is based on a theme; for the 2015-2016 season, the theme was “Trash Trek: We’re Not Talking Trash, We’re Cleaning It Up.” Finally, the students must learn to work together as a team, abiding by and learning the Core Values of FIRST:
Core Values of FIRST
- We are a team.
- We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
- We know our coaches and mentors don’t have all the answers; we learn together.
- We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
- What we discover is more important than what we win.
- We share our experiences with others.
- We display Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition in everything we do.
- We have FUN!
On Dec. 5, 2015, the Rah Rah Robots traveled to Carver Road Middle School in Griffin, Ga. for their first competition. In addition to the robot game, the team was judged on its’ research project and how well it knew the Core Values; furthermore, the team had to defend their robot design and programming choices to the judges. With 25 other teams competing from around Atlanta, the competition was stiff. The robot, which the girls nicknamed Samoa, ran into some bumps and missed several missions.The girls quickly had to regroup and learn to troubleshoot the programming and codes that they wrote. Their next round went better and turned out to be their high score for the day. At the end of the day, the girls were ecstatic to learn that they had been awarded the “Most Innovative Solution” award for their research project, which was a Girl Scout badge that teaches other girls how to reduce food waste in their homes, schools, and communities.
The next week the girls learned, that from the pool of 600 teams, they were among approximately 250 that would move on to the Super Regional Level. Knowing that their robot score needed work, the girls met over the holidays to add more missions and solid programming to their plan. On January 16, they traveled to Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga. for the competition. Their hard work paid off, and they finished 11th in the robot score ranking, raising their high score nearly 150 points. While they were not selected for the state competition, the Rah Rahs are already planning ahead for next year’s theme, Animal Allies!
To share what they learned with others (one of the Core Values) the Rah Rahs attended a Girl Scout cookie rally in early January at the Bridge Community Center in Peachtree City. They were able to share their project, drive the robot and explain the program to the younger girls and leaders in attendance that day. They got some great feedback and interesting questions from the girls in attendance about how the robot drives and what it takes to write the programming. We hope these girls will start more robotics teams!
For more information about Girl Scouts visit: www.girlscoutsatl.org or https://www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl-scouts/our-investors/motorola-solutions-foundation.html.