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Girl Scouts robotics team goes to D.C.

October 28, 2010|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
  • Katy Wooten and Taylor Halsey stand in front of their science fair booth in the White House booksellers room.
Katy Wooten and Taylor Halsey stand in front of their science… (Courtesy of Julie…)

After spending years going door-to-door selling cookies, a group of Girl Scouts ended up at a house where most people can't even reach the door bell — the White House.

One of the 11 Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles' robotics teams, the Rock N' Roll Robots, attended the National Science Fair at the White House on Oct. 18, after winning the Inspire Award for the best overall team at the regional competition in Los Angeles.

"This was huge, getting invited to the White House is a once in a lifetime event, don't you think" said Julie Townsend, team mentor and Jet Propulsion Laboratory robotics engineer.

Plenty of memories were made as the team demonstrated their robot in a hallway of the White House, saw the Mythbusters from the Discovery Channel, watched President Barrack Obama give a speech and shook his hand afterward.

"I think that it's so meaningful for them to get recognition for their achievements in science and technology," Townsend said. "The school's winning science team doesn't get as much attention as the football team. It was so nice to see them be appreciated and recognized for their work."

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The team also won the 2010 For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology World Championships in Atlanta last April, where they won the Inspire Award once again. The award is presented to the First Tech Challenge team that not only represents a top-performing robot but is the best role model team.

The Rock N' Roll Robots is made up of girls from Long Beach, Lakewood, Inglewood, Gardena, Sunland, Northridge, an exchange student from Russia and Katy Wooten from La Cañada. They all come together to build a robot, program it to complete tasks, research a science-related topic and present before a professional panel and compete against other teams.

The community can also see the Rock N' Roll Robots in action at the Los Angeles For Inspiration and Recognition Science and Technology Challenge Regional Competition on Dec. 11, at San Marino High School.

"A big part of the team motivation is to share their experience with and motivate girls to get involved in robotics and engineering and give them the opportunity to have that kind of inspiration," Townsend said. "Going to the White House was great. It's a really great venue for the team to showcase robotics to other youth."

Many of the girls joined the Rock N' Roll Robots with no real knowledge about robotics. Now five of the six graduated team members have gone on to study engineering or science in college.

"Three of the six girls are now studying engineering in college, none of whom really considered it before they started the team," Townsend said. "That's our teams greatest success criteria, we give them a new dedication to science and engineering."

Eighth to 12th grade girls in the greater Los Angeles area, looking for a greater zeal for science and engineering can join the Rock N' Roll Robots team. For more information about how to join contact Townsend at julie@rocknrollrobot25.com.

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