Continuing our Mission for Diversity Beyond FIRST Robotics

In fourth grade I helped start Green Girls Robotics, an all-girls FIRST Lego League team out of Eagan, MN. I created this team because I wanted everyone on it to explore their interests in science and technology regardless of the gender norms and stereotypes that existed even in a fourth grade classroom. As we grew up through the FIRST robotics programs my teammates and I became interested in securing opportunities for the underrepresented groups in STEM including females, People Of Color, children in the foster care system, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ persons. We accomplished this by creating a STEM curriculum that could reach younger audiences, holding robotics interest meetings specifically for females, and leading activities at a camp for LGBTQ+ students. We did this for 10 years until our team’s senior year in high school. It was at this point we realized that we didn’t want to stop encouraging underrepresented groups to pursue STEM after we graduated out of the robotics program.

To continue our legacy we passed down our STEM curriculum to other robotics teams to ensure that they continued to teach underserved students, we shared our knowledge of robotics to the entire FIRST community, and we created the Green Girls STEM Foundation. GG STEM Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization run by our robotics team alumni that gives scholarships to diverse students seeking a college degree in a STEM field, spreads awareness about the importance of diversity in STEM, and creates STEM curriculum to reach a young audience. To date we have given out over $20,000 in grants and scholarships to diverse students.

(One of our 2019 scholarship winners receiving her check)

Since COVID-19, our mission as an organization has been to move our STEM curriculum that we taught in high school to an online video format. In this way students can still participate in fun and inexpensive science projects from the safety of home. In the videos we cover a range of topics including Newton’s Laws with marble roller coasters, boats and buoyancy, and the science behind weather. Our videos are aimed at preschool and elementary students, but can be fun for the whole family. You can find a link to our videos here.

(Watch our video demonstrating the engineering lifecycle with an egg drop challenge)

If you’d like to learn more about the Green Girls STEM Foundation and how we are spreading diversity in the STEM community and FIRST Robotics you can visit our website. Green Girls Robotics.

Grace Hansen @gehansen