Middle School Girls Tackle Robotics at Woodlands Academy Event

  • Nearly 50 girls from 21 area middle schools formed teams and engaged in hands-on cooperative activities requiring the use of creative problem-solving skills during Woodlands Academy's Robotics and Engineering Workshop Nov. 18.

    Nearly 50 girls from 21 area middle schools formed teams and engaged in hands-on cooperative activities requiring the use of creative problem-solving skills during Woodlands Academy's Robotics and Engineering Workshop Nov. 18. Courtesy of Woodlands Academy

 
 
Updated 11/21/2017 8:21 AM

As one way of encouraging girls to pursue STEM courses in high school -- and then STEM careers later in life -- Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart hosted a robotics and engineering event for middle school girls Nov. 18. Nearly 50 girls in grades 6, 7 and 8 spent a Saturday morning at the all-girls college preparatory day-and-boarding high school in Lake Forest enthusiastically engaged in hands-on cooperative activities requiring the use of creative problem-solving skills.

The girls, from 21 area middle schools, were joined by Woodlands Academy students and members of its science department for some learning, fun and friendly competition. They did so by breaking into groups and then tackling three workshops, each modeling an aspect of the work that Woodlands Academy Robotics Club students face while building their robot. One workshop focused on building a simple car with a motor. Another involved designing and building a small catapult, and the third workshop focused on basic computer programming skills using Scratch.

 

The idea for last year's inaugural event came from Elizabeth Bartusiak, a senior from Lake Forest, who was president of Woodlands Academy's robotics club. She wanted girls -- who traditionally are not encouraged to pursue the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) -- to have the opportunity to share her enthusiasm for robotics.

In addition to this second annual robotics/engineering event, Woodlands has hosted a popular Mathalon competition for middle school girls the past six years.

"We do this to get younger girls interested in STEM," said John Denman, Woodlands Academy physics teacher/Robotics Club moderator. "They will be the next generation of scientists and engineers responsible for expanding our knowledge of the universe or creating something that we don't even know we need yet."

Studies cited by the National Coalition of Girls' Schools show that all-girls' schools lead the way in graduating women who become our nation's scientists, doctors, engineers, designers and inventors. Research shows that girls' school graduates are more likely to consider majoring in math, science and technology and also are more likely to consider engineering careers compared to girls who attend coed schools. Woodlands Academy is the #1 Best All-girls High School in Illinois and the #21 Best All-girls High School in America (highest in the Midwest), according to 2018 rankings by Niche, an independent research company.

Founded in 1858, Woodlands Academy is an independent Catholic college preparatory day and boarding high school for young women. It's part of a worldwide network of Sacred Heart Schools that spans the United States and 40 other countries. A nonprofit, Woodlands Academy's identity is rooted in Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat's desire to inspire young hearts and minds to excel, to lead lives of integrity and to serve. For more information about Woodlands Academy, please visit www.woodlandsacademy.org

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