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School students inspired to pursue STEM through practical workshops

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8 June 2022

A group of 23 primary and intermediate school students visited Unleash Space to participate in three interactive workshops exploring the world of STEM. The event was organised by the Auckland chapter of Robogals, a non-profit global organisation that aims to inspire, empower, and educate youth to pursue STEM and promote diversity in STEM fields. Robogals Auckland, a student-run club based at the University of Auckland, achieves this by running fun, practical workshops in primary and secondary schools throughout the city.

The three workshops that participants rotated through were:

  • An interactive workshop that used Engineering World Health’s optical heart rate monitor kit and practical exercises to demonstrate how heart rate measuring devices work
  • A VEX IQ workshop where participants learned how to block code by navigating robots through a maze, away from a volcano while avoiding lava
  • A Morse code workshop where students learned the basics of code and the importance of communication in STEM through communication games, such as using Morse code and MBots to send messages to each other.

“All the kids were so enthusiastic about the different workshops and genuinely seemed to have a lot of fun,” says Sabina Aquino, Mechatronics Engineering student and Secretary of Robogals Auckland. “It was so cool to see even the youngest kids being 100% involved in the activities. One highlight that stood out for me was a kid playing an air guitar on his knees in excitement after his team’s robot made it successfully through the obstacle course.”

All workshops were held at Unleash Space, the University of Auckland’s state-of-the-art innovation hub and maker space run by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). President of Robogals Auckland and Civil Engineering student Gabby Wu says, “This was our second time using Unleash Space for a Robogals event and it was perfect. The super welcoming open space meant the kids were all together but we could section off the different spaces for separate workshops.”

Vice President and Electrical Engineering student Carissa Liew adds, “The bright colours in Unleash Space and equipment also brought about a sense of ‘making’ and the endless possibilities in STEM that inspired both participants and volunteers. Much of the executive team were familiar with Unleash Space through Velocity, the maker space, and Maker Club, so we knew it was the right space for our event.”

Sabina hopes that initiatives like Robogals will help minimise the gender gap in STEM by exposing students to STEM subjects early on in their education. She says, “Science wasn’t even offered as a subject at my primary school. I really wish I was exposed to it earlier, as I know I would have absolutely loved to have the opportunity to play with robots as a kid. I am really proud to be a woman in STEM and minimising the gender gap is something that I am really passionate about. I believe one of the ways this can be helped is through early exposure to how cool, exciting, and limitless STEM can be!”

For Marketing Manager and Mechatronics Engineering student Sophia Shulz, Robogals plays an important role in improving accessibility to STEM programmes. She says, “My school had a few robotics/STEM-related summer programmes that I participated in when I was little, but they cost money and weren’t accessible for everyone. I remember hesitating to sign up for them because I thought of robotics and engineering as a “boys only” thing and didn’t know any girls who were also interested in it. As a result, I’m extremely passionate about Robogals’ mission of exposing younger generations, especially girls, to STEM through our free workshops! By normalising STEM as a field accessible for everyone of all genders, I hope to inspire kids to pursue their passions without their gender being a barrier.”

Following the success of their latest workshops, Robogals is planning a series of events taking place during the inter-semester break including Careers in STEM talks for high school students, a LinkedIn101 workshop, industry events, and more. Robogals members who wish to gain experience facilitating workshops can sign-up to volunteer.

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

social media

8 June 2022

A group of 23 primary and intermediate school students visited Unleash Space to participate in three interactive workshops exploring the world of STEM. The event was organised by the Auckland chapter of Robogals, a non-profit global organisation that aims to inspire, empower, and educate youth to pursue STEM and promote diversity in STEM fields. Robogals Auckland, a student-run club based at the University of Auckland, achieves this by running fun, practical workshops in primary and secondary schools throughout the city.

The three workshops that participants rotated through were:

  • An interactive workshop that used Engineering World Health’s optical heart rate monitor kit and practical exercises to demonstrate how heart rate measuring devices work
  • A VEX IQ workshop where participants learned how to block code by navigating robots through a maze, away from a volcano while avoiding lava
  • A Morse code workshop where students learned the basics of code and the importance of communication in STEM through communication games, such as using Morse code and MBots to send messages to each other.

“All the kids were so enthusiastic about the different workshops and genuinely seemed to have a lot of fun,” says Sabina Aquino, Mechatronics Engineering student and Secretary of Robogals Auckland. “It was so cool to see even the youngest kids being 100% involved in the activities. One highlight that stood out for me was a kid playing an air guitar on his knees in excitement after his team’s robot made it successfully through the obstacle course.”

All workshops were held at Unleash Space, the University of Auckland’s state-of-the-art innovation hub and maker space run by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). President of Robogals Auckland and Civil Engineering student Gabby Wu says, “This was our second time using Unleash Space for a Robogals event and it was perfect. The super welcoming open space meant the kids were all together but we could section off the different spaces for separate workshops.”

Vice President and Electrical Engineering student Carissa Liew adds, “The bright colours in Unleash Space and equipment also brought about a sense of ‘making’ and the endless possibilities in STEM that inspired both participants and volunteers. Much of the executive team were familiar with Unleash Space through Velocity, the maker space, and Maker Club, so we knew it was the right space for our event.”

Sabina hopes that initiatives like Robogals will help minimise the gender gap in STEM by exposing students to STEM subjects early on in their education. She says, “Science wasn’t even offered as a subject at my primary school. I really wish I was exposed to it earlier, as I know I would have absolutely loved to have the opportunity to play with robots as a kid. I am really proud to be a woman in STEM and minimising the gender gap is something that I am really passionate about. I believe one of the ways this can be helped is through early exposure to how cool, exciting, and limitless STEM can be!”

For Marketing Manager and Mechatronics Engineering student Sophia Shulz, Robogals plays an important role in improving accessibility to STEM programmes. She says, “My school had a few robotics/STEM-related summer programmes that I participated in when I was little, but they cost money and weren’t accessible for everyone. I remember hesitating to sign up for them because I thought of robotics and engineering as a “boys only” thing and didn’t know any girls who were also interested in it. As a result, I’m extremely passionate about Robogals’ mission of exposing younger generations, especially girls, to STEM through our free workshops! By normalising STEM as a field accessible for everyone of all genders, I hope to inspire kids to pursue their passions without their gender being a barrier.”

Following the success of their latest workshops, Robogals is planning a series of events taking place during the inter-semester break including Careers in STEM talks for high school students, a LinkedIn101 workshop, industry events, and more. Robogals members who wish to gain experience facilitating workshops can sign-up to volunteer.


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