Fulton Science Academy’s All-Female Robotics Team Prepare for UK Competition
Fulton Science Academy’s All-Female Robotics Team, Control+Alt+Delete Chosen as First Team Ever to Represent the State of Georgia in Global FLL Finals Eighth Grade Girls Shatter Gender Stereotypes and Prepare for UK Competition
April 10, 2017. ALPHARETTA, GA – Eight eighth grade robotics students, better known as Control+Alt+Delete, made history this week after being chosen as the first robotics team EVER to represent the state of Georgia in the FLL International Open Championship this summer in the United Kingdom.
This honor comes on the heels of an impressive season where the team amassed awards and trophies at regional, super regional, and state FLL tournaments. The fact that the team is all female is especially noteworthy given the ongoing gender gap in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) fields.
According to a 2016 report by the National Science Foundation, less than one quarter of STEAM careers are filled by women; even more alarming, minority women comprise fewer than 1 in 10 employed scientists and engineers.
Fulton Science Academy aims to break these unnecessary gender gaps by encouraging female students to embrace subjects like robotics. FSAPS Principal, Kenan Sener, commented, “Whether we can see them or not, robots are already a very important part of everyday life. Just last week, Disney announced plans to create a ‘robotic actor’ to pilot in the filmmaking industry; the military uses highly developed robots to test hazmat suits and Tech Insider reports that companies like Tesla, Google, and Facebook are also investing huge amounts of capital into robotics and AI research and development. Robots are definitely here to stay, which is why early exposure to programs such as the First Lego League is so important for our students.”
Team Control+Alt+Delete is one of more than 32,000 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams that competes in robotics competitions annually. The program tasks students in more than 80 countries to think like scientists and engineers. Winning teams ascend to tournaments of increasing levels of competitiveness.
FSAPS Robotics Coach, Yasin Kaya, remembers when he was notified that his team had been chosen to advance to the UK. “When Georgia’s First Lego League Operational Partner, Jeff Rosen, shared the news, I was elated! I remember asking Mr. Rosen if Control+Alt+Delete was their first all-female team to compete globally at this scale. When he explained that not only were they the first all-female team, but also that they were the first team EVER to be chosen, I was speechless. This honor is not lost on these talented young ladies or myself. They continue to work countless hours to prepare for England; they are very much in it to win it!”
FLL’s theme for this year is “ANIMAL ALLIES.” Competing teams must choose and solve a real-world animal problem, as well as propose a solution to this problem using detailed research, presentation materials, and the creation of a prototype. Students also had to build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology to solve a set of missions in the competition’s timed Robot Challenge. Throughout their experience, teams had to operate under the FIRST LEGO League signature set of Core Values, celebrating discovery, teamwork, and Gracious Professionalism. On average, the young ladies spend at least ten hours weekly (outside of the normal school day) working on their project. “
Control+Alt+Delete decided to tackle this challenge by researching a more natural way to eliminate mosquitos without using pesticides. Pesticides have been linked to adverse health effects including brain tumors (PubMed.gov), so the young ladies wanted to identify an alternate to harmful chemicals. Through their research, team members learned that bats are a natural remedy and that they can eat up to five thousand mosquitoes each night. Also, the girls learned that bats are somewhat easy to attract, so they pursued this concept in more detail.
In conjunction with FLL’s requirements, Team Control+Alt+Delete constructed a bat house using a 3D printer, engineering and programming. The bat house included a vent can that will open or close based upon the temperature because bats are affected by temperature. If the exterior temperatures rise above 65oF, the vent is programmed to open (allowing air circulation and an increased likelihood that bats will visit), but if temperatures drop below 65oF, the vent is programmed to close. These variations allow bats to remain inside and stay warm; the bat house can be placed in larger areas where there is a high volume of pesky mosquitos.
Along with the bat house, members of Control+Alt+Delete also created a smaller, separate mosquito trap using carbon dioxide and LED lights. The combination of these materials will attract mosquitos towards a fan that sucks them into the enclosure. The entire project was detailed in an impressive engineering notebook, and team members used this log, as well as their designs, when presenting their work to numerous juding panels.
We chose this name for a very special reason,” said team member, Manasvi Gaddam. “Much the same way someone needs to hit all three keys (Control+Alt+Delete) in unison on a keyboard to reboot a computer, so too do we rely upon the skills and talents of ALL of our team members working in unison to perform at our fullest potential.”
Operating at their fullest potential is definitely their ultimate goal. Jeff Rosen, speaking on behalf of Georgia’s FLL League, stated, “This team is one that never says never! They are beautifully poised to represent Georgia and the United States this summer in the UK. Everyone is so excited to follow the team’s progress. These young women are very positive role models and I hope will encourage more girls to pursue STEAM careers.”
The International Open Championship will be held at the University of Bath, Bath, UK, June 21-25, 2017. Team members are trying to raise $10,000 to cover travel-related expenses. Tax-deductible contributions from individuals, companies and foundations can be made at https://donate.fultonscienceacademy.org/robotics.