Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

March 11, 2013

OHS all-female robotics squad proves they can compete with the boys

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Cookies, girls and robots.

That’s the phrase Jeff Henderson uses to describe one of the teams he coaches at Ottumwa High School. Robotics is the subject, and all of the team members are female.

The girls have the spotlight because they’re the only all-girl team in the state. They’re sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa and they received a Scale-Up Grant from the Governor’s STEM initiative.

Recently, the girls’ Team 4144 Engineer Imagineer won the Motivate Award and finished in 14th place in a recent statewide competition.

“All of us decided to take the challenge,” Henderson said Friday. “We brainstormed, made drawings and wrote stuff.”

The team designed the robot, built it and did the programming.

“It’s a male-dominated event and we all accepted the challenge,” said team member Kelsey Granneman.

Henderson said the team worked hard to be competitive.

They use “tele-op,” and that’s where the team can drive with joy sticks. Henderson said they’re “working with a box that’s 18 by 18 by 18” inches.

To be that size, there are certain materials they can’t use, and they have to buy pre-made parts, Granneman said.

Henderson said the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa has been helpful to the team and so has John Deere.

The robots and the competitions are part of the First Tech Challenge, Henderson said.

“The purpose of the robotics is to get young people — who might not be in a sport at all — involved with a team,” he added.

Team members get a chance to learn how to run a wrench, how to cut plexiglass and other skills.

Granneman said she enjoyed going to state and was pleased the team could “stand out from the other 48,” she said. And, the team was “only” girls.

Henderson, however, said there was one thing that bothered him some,  and that’s when one of the girls spilled glitter on the robot.

The team is comprised of Granneman, Kassidi Henderson, Nicole Peyton, Mady Feather, Kenzie McCoy, Claire Carlson and Caroline Carlson.