“Snap & Chat: Robot Maker-Overs.” @ Mamaroneck Public Library

Ellen McTyre April 29, 2016

Mamaroneck Teen Library has partnered with our local STEM Alliance of Larchmont-Mamaroneck to hold a special series workshop. Program is made possible by a Grant from the Westchester Library System and donations from the Mamaroneck Elks Lodge B.P.O.E #1457.  This program series will establish an entry level robotics intensive workshop to introduce rising 6th through 9th grade girls on how to design and build EV3 Robots; programmable command robots using high quality motors, sensors, gears, wheels, axles, and other technical components which can walk, talk, think and do anything you can imagine, and to the FIRST Lego League which is an international competitive robotics league in which teams research  real-world problems and strive to come up with innovative solutions through applied science, technology, engineering, and math concepts.

Program Summary & Activities: A 10 hour intensive offered in five 2 hour segments. 

Activities will be broken into two areas:

SNAP: This time will be used to give specific instructions for snapping together - building the robot - as well as time to “snap” pictures of the robots.  Then, they will write and snap together code to program the robots.  The coding instruction follows an established robotics curriculum that teaches programming in a simple and sequential manner.

CHAT: This time will be used to allow the participants’ time to chat.  Topics will include:

  • reading and discussing a few quick bios about a female tech role model
  • defining the jobs on a FIRST team to break down misconceptions about robotics teams
  • encouraging students to talk about their robots to give them personalities and imagine the possibilities of what their robot could do (e.g. naming their robots, creating name tags for the robots, personalizing them with art materials and imagining the types of tasks their particular robot might want to achieve based upon their personalities)
  • allowing students to photograph, celebrate and share their robots on social media streams

Type: Active
Age: Middle school
Optimal size: 11-20
Estimated cost: $100+
Planning time: 5+ hours
Frequency: One-time

Learning outcomes

Purpose & ObjectivesIt has been well-established that girls are highly underrepresented in STEM careers including engineering and technology.  President Obama stated, “We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those (STEM) fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent…not being encouraged the way they need to.”  Although our School District now has an active middle school and high school level FIRST robotics team as well as an articulated computer science elective in the high school, we are still struggling to attract and keep girls involved.

This introductory intensive has been selected as a priority project for Mamaroneck Library’s STEM education workshop specifically to address this crisis and it leverages a partnership with a local non-profit, The STEM Alliance of Larchmont-Mamaroneck, to coordinate this beginner program with the robotics programs in the public schools.  In this manner, the program is not a “one of” but rather it exists as an entry point into a larger pathway to robotics specifically and computer science education generally.

This program is based upon the most current dialogue around how to engage girls in STEM disciplines.  While covering the same basic skills as required in any intro EV3 course, the workshop uses marketing, curriculum and pedagogy that specifically appeals to girls in the following ways:

  •  offers a single sex format - to allow girls the safety they need to experiment, make mistakes and celebrate their work in a single sex peer context
  • connects to current, culturally relevant trends that are popular with girls: SNAP CHAT, social media streams and make overs
  • integrates socio-emotional approaches to the robots into the instruction by encouraging the students to build personalities and purposefulness into their robots
  • makes time to introduce girls to female role models in FIRST competitions and the technology industry


Instructor information & qualifications: The STEM Alliance of Mamaroneck-Larchmont is a grass-root, non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing K-12 STEM education and enrichment initiatives to benefit students, parents and educators in our schools and community while enhancing and expanding STEM awareness through educational offerings, extra-curricular opportunities, professional development and career opportunities.


To be seen as program is scheduled for last week of July 2016.

However:  Target audience & capacity: This program will serve a maximum of twelve girls in the rising 6th- 9th grade age bracket.  This is the optimum number due to the number of robots available and to maintain the most effective student-to-coach ratios.  A strong sense of success is critical for girls who are already taking a chance in an area which may be largely unknown to them.  This small context will allow the girls the highest likelihood of success in this new and complicated endeavor. The program will be for girls only but open to all area public and private schools where we hope to recruit girls from large Latino demographic in Mamaroneck.

Other resources

Culminating activity planned:  Each participant will have the opportunity to showcase their robot on the Mamaroneck Library’s Facebook, YouTube and other social media pages through a series of photographs and short videos. These videos will also be shown at a future date during 2016 Summer Reading Program in the Community Room. A final celebration will be held on the last day of the workshop where participants will receive T-shirts specifically designed for this program and their sponsors. The local television station, media and high school student journalism teams will be invited to this culminating activity. Friends of the Library to provide refreshments.

There are two robotics clubs at our local middle and high schools; that have about 26 members and only 1 is female. We hope this program will open up interest and community awareness for girls to the current opportunities offered in our school district as well as the larger computer science and technology electives.  The Library will also share additional resources for online and community offerings for non-competition based robotics and computer science educational opportunities.

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