Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley Improving the Lives of Women through Service, Advocacy and Awareness.
Excitement and enthusiasm abound as girls, ages nine to 14, design, build and operate their own robots! The Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley has sponsored Robotics for Girls in partnership with the Boys and Girls (B&G) Club located in Newhall for 10 years. Zontians work hands-on with the girls to build and program LegoMindstorm Robots. The program fosters interest and skills in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields using the Club’s STEM lab computers.
The first activity is to build a fully functional robot using Lego parts and a special “brain”. Using computers, the second step is to create computer software to instruct the “Bot” to perform a variety of life-like robotic behaviors. Data is collected and analyzed from sensors by using data logging functions embedded in the software.
Zonta mentors created a series of lesson plans to help the girls learn to build and program a robot with basic moves. Initial lessons include forward and backward moves, setting speed and distance, making turns, and spinning. Each lesson plan has a challenge that the girls must complete before continuing to the next step. Eventually the lessons involve touch, sound, color, line, and ultrasonic sensors.
Finally, working in teams, they build robots of their choice. The year culminates with displaying their robot at a Zonta meeting and a Family Night. Parents, siblings and friends join the girls as they demonstrate small robots, running them through a maze while competing for prizes.
Henry Mayo Hospital asked if Zonta’s Robotic Girls would like to come and “play” with a new $2 million dollar surgical robot recently acquired. The answer was “Yes!” Thirteen girls operated the surgical robot and accepted a challenge to place very small rubber bands on silicone fingers, simulating an abdominal operation. Each was allotted one minute each. The hospital promised to donate $10 for each successful placement. $1,500 later – very happy girls!
The Girl’s Robotics Program supports and promotes Zonta’s mission which is to empower girls and women locally and worldwide.
For more information about the Girl’s Robotic Program, to see the girls in action at the Newhall Boys & Girls Club, or learn about Zonta, call Phyllis Walker at 661-251-1172 or visit www.scvzonta.com.
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