Photo by : Nathan Levenhagen

Author : Divya Kumar

ChickTech Hosts Its First Weeklong Robotics Bootcamp

This past July, Chicktech ran a weeklong robotics bootcamp for middle and high school girls across Oregon. Hosted at the PCC Rock Creek campus, the camp lasted 5 days and exposed the girls to a variety of activities that would cultivate their expertise in the robotics field. The purpose of this weeklong camp was to educate young women on the different aspects regarding FIRST Robotics. As these girls were ages 12-18, the camp was geared towards the middle school and high school FIRST programs, FTC (First Tech Challenge) and FRC (First Robotics Challenge).

At the beginning of the week, the girls were introduced to the basic concepts of each challenge. On top of this, a few teams from across the Portland area brought in their robots from past competitions. This allowed the girls to talk to some of the teammates about the program as well as practice driving robots. After that, the camp was split up into rotations in which each girl practiced a base skill. These skills included programming, learning about and using sensors, basic building, and 3D design and printing. Learning basic programming helped them grasp the main skills that would be needed in robotics as well as allow girls to explore their own interest in the subject.

Using sensors is a crucial portion of robotics and this lesson was able to jump-start their knowledge on the subject for the future. They were able to 3D print their names to practice using a 3D printer, another important aspect of robotics and a good skill to have. They were also given a chance to build a robotic frog, growing their building and teamwork skills. On the last few days, the girls split up into 3 groups for advanced classes. They were given a choice to hone in on a skill that they enjoyed most or were most interested in. The advanced classes were made up of more complex forms of programming, building, and 3D printing. They were able to build a hydraulic claw as well as bring out materials to build a toy car. On the last day, the girls soldered a Simon Says circuit game, went through a flight simulator, and caught t-shirt’s fired from a t-shirt cannon.

Watching these girls – many of who were encountering technology in-depth for the first time – was amazing. Many girls are pushed away from STEM at a young age, whether because they feel sidelined or because they simply don’t have good experiences. Helping these girls to learn and refine their skills in a safe teaching environment made an incredible difference. They were able to leave with tangible reminders of their hard work and many of the girls are planning on entering a robotics program in their area. We are so excited to continue with this amazing program and we hope to help even more young women in the future realize their dreams in the tech field.