Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois’ Robotics Team from Roxana Wins at State Tournament

Glen Carbon, Illinois – TBot 907 from Roxana, one of Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois’ (GSSI) Robotics Teams, won the “Core Values Inspiration” award at the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) state tournament on Jan. 18 at University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

The "Core Values Inspiration" award, is awarded to the team, "that is empowered by their FLL experience and displays extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit." This is the second award that TBot 907 has won this season -- they also took home the ‘Champions Award" from the Jan. 11 FLL exhibition at Carriel Jr. High in O’Fallon.

Three additional GSSI Robotics Teams participated in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) state tournament on Jan. 18 at University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana: Lightning Storm from Belleville, The Lego Divas from Effingham and G4S4 from Ozark.

FLL is a robotics program for 9 to 14 year olds which is designed to get children excited about science and technology, as well as teach them valuable life skills. Teams use a LEGO MINDSTORMS Lego set to build and program an autonomous robot to score points on a themed competition table. The theme for this year’s tournament was “Nature’s Fury” and concerned how science can help aid prevention and recovery efforts during natural disasters. Along with programming robots, teams are also evaluated on an elaborate research project, as well as how well they demonstrate FLL Core Values, which include teamwork, collective learning, active participation and gracious professionalism. After practicing and preparing for months, teams meet at regional qualifying tournaments to be graded on the three elements, with the top teams advancing to state competition.

TBot 907 is coached by volunteer Tara Holbrook. Team members are Taylor Holbrook, Abigail Kurth, Hannah Oldendorph, Michaela Tarpley and Victoria Tarpley.

“The FLL Robotics Program has been amazing,” said Holbrook. “The girls practice each day after school and the hardest thing has been to pack up and leave. They are discovering at a young age that learning is a lifelong process and there is always more to explore and accomplish.”

Girl Scout Robotics teams are part of GSSI’s initiative to engage more girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Studies show that girls tend to drift away from involvement in STEM activities around middle school, despite a continuing interest in STEM subject matter. Other STEM programming at GSSI ranges from doing basic chemistry experiments with younger girls to teaching financial literacy during the Girl Scout Cookie Program to introducing older girls to career mentors in engineering and medicine.

“Engaging girls in STEM in exciting, relevant ways is vital,” explained Buchanan. “Research shows that many students, especially girls, drift away from STEM around middle school. GSSI provides diverse opportunities to build and reinforce interest in these important fields. As shown by our growth in the number of robotics teams, many girls are searching for ways to stay involved in STEM and we strive to provide them with unique and constructive experiences.”

TBot 907 and Lightning Storm were funded through a $20,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund in support of GSSI’s metro-east area robotics teams. “Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois is very grateful to be able to provide even more girls with a STEM opportunity and a chance to compete on a robotics team through the financial support from The Monsanto Fund,” said Villie M. Appoo, GSSI Chief Executive Officer. “Working together, we are ensuring girls in southern Illinois are learning about STEM and robotics, gaining confidence in building and programming robotics and starting to think about a possible STEM career,” Appoo added.

Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois serves 14,000 girls and 4,800 adult volunteers in more than 40 counties in southern Illinois. Girl Scouting has inspired more than 50 million girls and women since its founding in 1912. Girl Scouting is focused on providing a premier Girl Scout Leadership Experience for girls in the 21st century, while ensuring the traditions and values that have been core to Girl Scouting since its beginning remain strong and relevant.

Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois is a not-for-profit organization supported by various United Ways throughout the region. Girl Scouts is a Proud Partner of United Way. For more information, please call Erin Johnson at 618.692.0692.