DATE: Saturday, March 9, 2013
TIME: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; 3:45 p.m. is best for team robot competition
WHAT: Girls’ team workshop to build and program LEGO NXT robots
WHERE: Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center
100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke
Dozens of middle school girls from across western Massachusetts will converge on the new Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPPC) in Holyoke on Saturday, March 9, where they will learn how to build and program LEGO robots as part of “Girls Connect,” a program of the Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology Education (CAITE) program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Eight teams of girls ages 9 to 13 in grades 4 to 8 from Holyoke and other western Massachusetts towns with their adult coaches and chaperones will apply real-world math and science concepts to spark the girls’ interest in computing and technology. High school students from Girls Incorporated of Holyoke and college students serve as mentors and roles models. All team robots complete a series of missions to end the day. Each team receives an award for its accomplishments.
“We are thrilled to be able to bring girls from Holyoke and surrounding towns for a fun day at the computing center, which just opened this fall,” says Renee Fall, program manager for CAITE, which is organizing the event. “Not only will the girls have fun, build confidence, and be introduced to computer science and engineering concepts, they’ll experience first-hand the facility that houses supercomputing power to solve big real-world problems.”
Girls, teachers and parents who have attended past Girls Connect events have gone on to form teams to compete in FIRST LEGO League. “One of our goals is to inspire more in-depth experiences with science, engineering and computing, so more students can see computer science as a potential career path,” says Fall.
In addition to UMass Amherst’s CAITE and the MGHPPC, the event is co-sponsored by LEGO Education, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and Girls Incorporated of Holyoke. FIRST LEGO League was founded to engage children in meaningful learning while helping them discover the fun in science and technology.