Girls, Zontians Learn About Robots in Challenge
SANTA CLARITA (March 5, 2010) – Girls from the Boys & Girls Club and women from the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley united for a friendly robotics challenge on Feb. 26 at the Club’s Newhall site. The girls, ranging from 11 to 16 years old, worked with the ladies to build robots within a 95-minute timeframe.
“As the competition was coming to a close, the teams were still making adjustments to their robots’ programming. Then at the last minute, one robot took a final run and made it through the obstacle course and across the finish line,” said Janine Fairall, education director at the Newhall Clubhouse of Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley. “It was very exciting for everyone.”
The winning team consisted of attorney Cindy Kittle; hypnotherapist Karen Maleck-Whiteley; Kelly Dell, 13; Ally Ebner, 11; and Jovana Fitzgerald, 13. The remaining two teams each took a turn to determine whose robot would go the furthest on the obstacle course to garner 2nd and 3rd places. The 2nd place team included a public relations officer, retired human resources manager and two girls. The 3rd place team comprised an AP science teacher and former chemical engineer, a project manager from Kaiser, and two girls.
In addition to building the plastic wonders from a Lego Mindstorms kit, each team had to program the robots for the challenge. That required measuring the track with yard sticks, calculating the tire circumference and working out the robots’ turns.
The reverse-learning project stemmed from wanting to show the Zonta group how exciting the robotics program they funded in the summer of 2009 was for the girls. Zonta invited Fairall and the girls to bring the robots to the Zonta Club’s January business meeting, which honored Amelia Earhardt, a Zontian, and the Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship program. Fairall asked if the Zontians would like to participate in the challenge and the women gave an enthusiastic “yes.”
“This is exactly what Zonta tries to do—put money and volunteer support behind girls and projects to help them. Here we are in Santa Clarita getting on the floor with the girls, getting them excited about robotics, while Zonta International funds graduate fellowships in aerospace and aeronautics,” said Kittle, who is also president of the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley and secretary of the Boys & Girls Club governing board.
Kara Fitzgerald came to watch her daughter, Jovana, participate in the event. She just started at the Boys & Girls Club when school began and was immediately interested in the robotics activity. “It’s great that they have to figure out and do the calculations. Jovana is good at math and I like that this is a different option (for using those skills),” she said.
Jovana, who did the programming for her team’s robot, commented that it was a difficult task. “I was surprised the robot made it through the course that fast. I thought it would take more tries,” she said.
Sue Peterson, an AP science teacher and former chemical engineer, enjoyed the experience and commented that it was her first visit to the Boys & Girls Club. “I am amazed and grateful there is something like this for the kids. This is very exciting for the girls, helping to continue to drive them through high school. The kids get to use their imagination and develop it by building something new,” she said.
The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley is a member of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, an organization with more than 4,000 clubs nationwide. The local Club was formed by a group of community leaders who recognized the need for high-quality programs and facilities at affordable costs for area young people. The Club now serves more than 2,700 youth, ages 7-17, at facilities in Newhall, Canyon Country and Val Verde. Programs engage members in education and career exploration, the arts, sports, recreation and fitness, character and leadership development, and healthy life choices. For more information, visit http://www.scvkids.org.
Zonta International, founded in 1919, is a worldwide service organization of executives in business who work together to advance the status of women, with nearly 33,000 members in more than 1,200 clubs, in 67 countries and geographic areas. The Zonta Club of SCV, founded in 1974, meets the second Wednesday of each month at the Hilton Garden Inn for a dinner program and business meeting. For more information, visit http://www.scvzonta.org/
Contact: (Boys & Girls Club) Jim Ventress/Bryan Lake: 661-254-CLUB & (Zonta) Cindy Kittle: 661-312-3731
The Signal's article: http://www.the-signal.com/news/article/25603/
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