An insight into the Robogals Workshop held at Lanyon High, Canberra
Esa Janara, one of the volunteers at Canberra’s first robotics workshop was interviewed about his amazing experience.
What preparations for the workshop did you do?
Winging it could have been rather exciting however we obviously didn’t want to leave room for error, so that everyone could get the most out of the workshop. Therefore a meeting was held prior to the workshop and attended by all the amazing volunteers involved to formulate a plan in which the structure of the workshop was based on. Since, the student activities within the workshop mainly revolved around the programming of NXT Lego Mindstorm Robots, all the volunteers had undertaken workshops themselves on how to program them.
How did the students receive the workshop?
Everyone got involved which was so fantastic to see. The students seemed to really enjoy themselves. You could hear the gears of intuitive problem solving cranking in their young minds! They were a pleasure to teach.
Were there any hiccups and how did you resolve them?
There was a minor technical hiccup near the beginning of the session. Student programming instructions were unable to be opened on the schools computers. This created little panic and the problem was rectified quickly by printing out hard copies of the instructions, courtesy of the school.
What was the highlight of the day?
The ‘Drawing Challenge’ definitely caused some hype. In this activity, the students armed each of the eight robots with a pen and programmed them to individually draw each letter of “Robogals” on some butchers paper spread along the floor. It was great to see all the students get together and cheering on their robot minions doing work.
How was your experience with Robogals?
Splendid! It was and is always such a pleasure and privilege to work with all the amazing student volunteers involved. My experience with Robogals has been very rewarding and has definitely enriched my engineering studies here at the ANU. I’m very thankful for this opportunity.
Do you think the workshop achieved the goals of Robogals? (to educate young women about Engineering)
Yes, for sure. We introduced what seemed to be a new word, to the vocabulary of the students in the workshop – “engineering”. This in itself, I believe, is a great starting point. Through all the activities students were exposed to aspects of engineering, broadening their knowledge on it. By simply giving the students an insight into engineering reflected in the workshop introduces them to new doors that they could now consider opening in the future.
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