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Summer program teaches girls robotics

June 19, 2013

UC Davis Girls' Robotics Camp

Sixth grade girls from American Canyon Middle School cheer on their robot at the 2013 Roboplay competition.

Video (3:33)

Videography by UC Davis C-STEM Center

Middle-school girls will get an introduction to math, computing and robotics at the University of California, Davis, this summer, knowledge that will equip them to inspire others when they go back to school.

The Girls' Leadership Camp on Computing and Robotics, organized by the UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM Center), will take place from July 22 through July 26. The fee is $195, and needs-based scholarships are available. Applications are due by June 28.

The camp is aimed at girls who will enter the seventh or eighth grade this fall. Participants will learn the basics of robotics, principles of engineering and C/C++ programming, as well as go on lab visits and field trips.

The camp will focus on confidence, teamwork, reasoning and problem-solving skills, as well as changing the misconception that girls cannot be scientists and engineers. High school girls from the C-STEM Center's Girls for Computing and Robotics Club will act as assistant coaches and mentors throughout the week.

The program will be led by Sruti Modekurty, a student in electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, in collaboration with Professor Harry Cheng, director of the center. Modekurty has participated in robotics competitions since seventh grade, including five world championships as a VEX & FIRST Robotics programmer and builder. The program is supported by a $5,000 grant from the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s AspireIT Middle School Outreach Program, which is sponsored by Google, Intel and Northrop Grumman.

Participants will leave with Linkbot robotics kits developed by Barobo, Inc., a Davis-based startup spun off from UC Davis.

The hope is that participants will start computing and robotics clubs at their own schools and with continued mentoring, will enter the C-STEM Center's RoboPlay Competitions in May, 2014. The RoboPlay competitions are designed to let K-12 students use robots in creative projects, while at the same time learning how to apply computing and STEM concepts to solve practical problems. Last year, the RoboPlay Competitions at UC Davis included more than 150 middle and high school student teams from schools in the Sacramento region.

The Girls for Computing and Robotics Club enlists young women from the greater Sacramento region who are in high school or college and have a strong affinity for computing or robotics to engage in their community and serve as role models for younger girls.

The UC Davis C-STEM Center will also hold a Summer Institute on Integrated Computing and STEM Education for secondary school teachers from June 24 to July 5. Participants will learn the principles of computing, programming and robotics and how to integrate these concepts into their current math and science teaching.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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