The judges have voted, and two National Organizers with great ideas to get more girls into robotics competitions has received the Girls in STEM Award!
The Girls in STEM Award is sponsored by our global technology sponsor Juniper Networks, and there are two categories – Past Projects and Future Projects. The winners were revealed on November 15 at the closing ceremony of WRO2020-X, this year's big online event. So, without further ado... (drumroll) – here they are:
Past Project – Robot Olympiad Schweiz
Future Project – STEM Education Organization for Cambodia
Each winner receive a prize of US$5,000 sponsored by Premium Partner Juniper Networks. World Robot Olympiad™ believes that this award can change lives. Because with it our National Organizers can make more girls discover that they can learn and master coding and robotics, and that it's fun – a great way to inspire more girls to go after a STEM education.
Already more girls in Switzerland
The National Organizer in Switzerland, led by Monika Koch, began their 'Mehr Girls in Robotik!' project in 2019. From 2019 to 2020 they have more than doubled the number of female participants in Switzerland!
The National Organizer's approach has been to give robotics kits and learning materials from LEGO to team coaches when they registered an all-girls team. The kits were sponsored by a fund for gender balance.
To raise awareness for the project Monika Koch and her team ran a national education campaign targeting all schools, to highlight benefits and opportunities of STEM education for girls. They also asked participating girls to write a blog on www.worldrobotolympiad.ch. The initiatives has led to coaches and teachers directly addressing girls and encouraging them to participate in World Robot Olympiad. Coaches also invest more time to support their all-female teams.
Team Mint from World Robot Olympiad Schweiz.
The Swiss National Organizer will continue 'Mehr Girls in Robotik!' in 2021 as they have found a sponsor for more robotics kits. And the prize money will be invested in an additional WRO offer for girls. The plan is to have female scientists, roboticists and engineers run an entry-level course and advanced course aimed at girls and young women. Apart from getting more female participants, the goal is to strengthen their self-confidence.
STEM Sister community in Cambodia
The National Organizer in Cambodia, STEM Education Organization for Cambodia, led by Una McCarthy-Fakhry, plan to utilize an existing program to encourage more girls to follow STEM. A mentoring program connecting female STEM professionals called Pro Sisters, with female university students – 'Big Sisters' – and high school 'Little Sisters' who are asked to lead STEM clubs to inspire peers toward a career in STEM. The program has spread across the country with an estimated 300 STEM Clubs involving over 4,000 students. The future project is to introduce this community to the wonders of robotics through the Annual Cambodia STEM Festival, Cambodia’s flagship STEM event. Due to COVID-19, WRO Cambodia will host the event as the country's first Virtual STEM Festival late January 2021.
By combining the STEM Sisters Cambodia Program with the Virtual STEM Festival Platform, they expect a significant increase in female participants in WRO Cambodia's 2021 season. Through a partnership with the Cambodian Ministry of Education Youth and Sport, the digital festival content will reach across the entire country.
Next step for WRO Cambodia after winning the Girls in STEM Award, is to dedicate a festival category to Robotics & Technology, create digital content and a robotics workshop for the STEM Sister community teaching skills which will enable them to enter WRO. And last but not least: A mentoring program that connects Little Sisters entering WRO with a Big Sister studying technology/robotics.
Watch as the two national organizers are informed they have won the Girls in STEM Award
Sharing the gold with member countries
The Girls in STEM award was created to help inspire more girls to go after a STEM education. It is aimed at National Organizers, because they have the biggest chance of significantly increasing the number of girls in our community. As we see with the results from WRO in Switzerland, it seems like it's already working. Claus Ditlev Christensen, World Robot Olympiad's Secretary General, says:
“We are excited to see how these initiatives are inspiring more girls to work with robotics. Next step is to share best practices from the submitted projects so we can raise the number of girls joining across World Robot Olympiad's 94 member countries."
Inspired to create a mentorship program
The submitted initiatives were reviewed by a panel of judges consisting of
NASA scientist, Crystal Jones
Camilla Bottke, Global Head of Competitions, LEGO Education
- and Chairman of the panel Mike Marcellin, Juniper CMO
Following the award proces, and after seeing the many inspiring submissions, Women in NASA, LEGO Education and Juniper Networks plan to scope out and create a mentorship program, that will be offered to all entrants going forward.
The top runners-up in each category was also recognized: IdeasGym, National Organizer in Egypt for Past Projects and WRO Japan for Future Projects. They both receive multiple STEM kits donated by our Premium Partner LEGO® Education.