Dragons Den in Leeds with the Robogals (& many others)

Today I spent the afternoon meeting with groups of young people from across Leeds allocating money, kindly donated by Starbucks Youth Action

The Starbucks Youth Action Dragons Den Panel with Robogals, Jessica and Sarah

The Starbucks Youth Action Dragons Den Panel with Robogals, Jessica and Sarah

 to support their projects.

All the young people had been supported by UK Youth to prepare for their Dragons Den experience. We met Daniel from the SAG Music Group, Jessica and Sarah from Robogals, Katie and others from Bedknobs and Celery Sticks, Louise from Positive Frames, Raffiq from IC Kings and Ross from Brightlights in Beeston. All the groups of young people had spent a lot of time preparing their ideas and perfecting their pitches for us Dragons. They all did really well and in the end everyone was given some money. But when there was a bit of cash left in the pot at the end of the afternoon we decided to allocate a bit of extra money to some of the ideas which had been particularly strong. Robogals was one of those. They go into schools to encourage girls to find out more about engineering as a career. I hope I can do my bit to support them by contacting schools in my constituency to make sure they know about the group and what they do.

Sarah from Robogals offered to write a short piece for my blog about what they so which you can read here:

Robogals by Sarah Griffiths
Robogals is an organisation run by student volunteers which encourages more young women to study STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and to go onto further education. To do this, student volunteers visit primary and secondary schools to teach robotics and talk about what studying STEM subjects involves. Both girls and boys are taught in the lessons as it encourages both to think about potential careers and also promotes teamwork.

Classes usually last for an hour and start with a brief careers talk to explain what engineering involves and why the volunteers are so enthusiastic about it, it also helps break the stereotype of engineering mainly involving cars and being a “dirty job”. Next is the robotics section, which is taught using Lego Mindstorm robots; the robots are very versatile, easy to put together but allow for a wide range of sensors to be used and programmed. The Mindstorm robots enable the pupils to use their imagination to complete their challenge, such as designing a search and rescue robot or building a “sumo” robot to compete with the other teams. Lastly, all of the robots are shown, allowing the children to show off their great work and in some cases, compete against their peers.

As President of Robogals Leeds, I work to set up lessons with teachers, recruit volunteers and look at ways for raising more money, I also work very closely with the rest of the committee to make sure that everything is going to plan. As a volunteer for Robogals, I help with lessons every fortnight and have great fun showing pupils how to use the robots and also answering questions about University and why I study engineering. It is always fun and very rewarding to see pupils enjoying themselves. It is also great to be perceived as a positive role model and to see girls being positive about STEM subjects.

By attending a Robogals workshop, it enables young people to experience a hands-on lesson using technology that they might normally not have access to. It allows them to be creative and see the fun side of technology and STEM subjects. It also helps girls to see that there are female scientists and engineers and that it is not just a career for boys. Overall, I think that a Robogals workshop would be a very enjoyable experience for most classes.

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Posted May 25th, 2012 by Ed