The University of Southampton

RoboGals introduce engineering to Southampton schools

Published: 31 July 2013

The new Southampton Chapter of RoboGals has been out and about introducing engineering to local school students.

Earlier this month five of the Robogals team took part in a survival-themed activities week with Year 9 students at Oaklands Catholic School and Sixth Form College.

The ECS students (pictured left to right), Yusra Hussain, Emily Barnes, Devangini Patel, Michael Robert, and Simon Kueh, worked with five classes of 30 students at a time, running five hour-long sessions.

‘We explained to the students what engineers do,’ said Emily Barnes. ‘We were able to show them the NXT robots and how to program them, and then set series of flexible challenges for the students to attempt. By the end of the session, most students had written a basic program that allowed the robots to navigate a small assault course by using basic directional instructions or sensing obstacles, sounds or colours.’

The Southampton Chapter of RoboGals was set up by ECS students earlier this year. The core aim of the organization is to introduce girls to the concept of engineering, and encourage them to consider a future STEM career. Volunteer university students visit schools to present talks and run robotic workshops, conveying what engineers do and the difference they can make in society. Robogals has chapters in Australia, the UK, USA and Japan.

Robogals Southampton Chapter is based at at the University, and is run from the ECS department. ‘ECS has a powerful female presence,’ said Yusra Hussain, ‘and we hope to use this to highlight the importance of women in engineering.’

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