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Stuart's All-Girls Robotics Team To Demonstrate STEM Skills at State Competition [With VIDEO]

"One thing we really want our girls to have is real world experience in science, technology, engineering and technology."


The girls designed, built and programmed a robot. 

Along the way, the girls also managed a budget, organized teams, devised a strategy, designed a website and created a video. 

And soon, this group of more than a dozen students at Stuart County Day School of the Sacred Heart in Princeton will compete their robot in the FIRST Tech Challenge State Championships at NJIT in Newark. The competition is for students in grades 7-12. 

It's all part of Stuart's initiative in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. And experience outside the classroom can be fun, practical and provide students will skills for the future. 

"One thing we really want our girls to have is real world experience in science, technology, engineering and technology," said Rose Wong, director of curriculum and faculty development at Stuart. 

The Stuart girls also got a hand from Princeton University students during the process, as members of Princeton Women in Computer Science were available for help and guidance and made visits to Stuart about twice a month. 

Teams at the state competition must demonstrate a robot that is able to grasp rings, then place them at various positions for different point values. 

The competition was originally scheduled for Feb. 9, but was postponed due to the snow. A new date has not yet been set.

Shinae Park, a physics teacher and the robotics club advisor at Stuart, said her job was to stand back and be a resource for the girls, but not micromanage the project. She said she is very pleased with the result. 

"It's a pretty clever design and they've built a very sophisticated robot," Park said. 

Among the Stuart girls participating are Vanessa Li, 16, a junior from Princeton, Jen Klejst, 17, a senior from Hillsborough, Elisa Vera, 17, a senior from Princeton Junction, Samielle Taylor, 16, a junior from Trenton and Alianna Maguire, 16, a junior, from Lawrence. 

Taylor said she joined the robotics club because she has a deep interest in science and wanted to understand the engineering process better. 

"Plus, I'm competitive," she said.

This is Stuart's second year participating in the robotics challenge. Last year the team placed fourth in their division at States.

This year, NRG Energy, Inc. became a team sponsor, donating about $4,500 to the the team, known as Sparks. 

“As a company that thrives on innovation, we care deeply about furthering FIRST’s goal to inspire young people to become the science and technology leaders of tomorrow,” said Jennifer Brunelle, head of NRG Global Giving.

As for the girls chances at this year's competition, Li is practical about it. 

"We put our best effort into it, so we'll do as well as our efforts allow us to do," she said. 

A focus on STEM education isn't new to Stuart. 

In 2011, the school announced a new STEM Advisory Task Force to help conquer the so-called “Girl Gap” in science, technology, engineering and math fields. In 2012, five eighth graders accepted two of the top honors in the 2012 National STEM Video Challenge in Washington, D.C.

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Richard Hadley February 18, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Uncle Cuz February 18, 2013 at 06:21 PM
Best of luck Eli! Uncle Cuz


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