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Middle school girls show off STEM skills at robotics competition

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A robotic competition for middle school girls around the state was held Tuesday at the Clay Center by WVU Tech and the NASA Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility.

The competition is part of the VEX Educational Robotics to Advance Girls Education.

Vex Educational Robotics to Advance Girls Education is a project to support and inspire middle and high school girls to explore and inspire careers of STEM in the state.

“The competition is very unique in that we are trying to engage underrepresented populations as females only represent about 26% of the STEM workforce right now,” NASA IV&V Program Manager Todd Ensign told MetroNews. “NASA and funders across the state believe that with increase equity and access we will have better outcomes with more of the female population going into STEM careers.”

Among those on hand Tuesday was a robotics team from Sissonville Middle School named Duck Dimension. The team won the state middle school championship in March.

Laila Davis, Kacie Long, and Baylee Brooks also won the award for excellence, which is the highest award given at the state level.

“We had a good strategy going in and felt like we were most prepared,” said team member Laila Davis. “We felt accomplished and it felt good winning because of how much effort we put into the competition.”

Kacie Long also added how robotic competition sparked her interest for a STEM career saying “I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did but now I would like to go into engineering as a career.”

American science communicator Emily Calandrelli was also in attendance Tuesday during the competition at the Clay Center. She gave a keynote speech to inspire girls about going into STEM careers and to show what’s possible.

Story by Chayce Matheny





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