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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Supporting girls in engineering and science: Robotics program continues to build momentum in Cap-Haitien

In October, I was delighted to be part of a team that launched a program (VEX Robotics) in an all-girls school in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. The program was led by two colleagues at Northeastern State University (Oklahoma) and the Vice-President of the Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation. Our goal was to use the robotics program, and related competitions, as a way to engage girls in science and engineering. We had an incredible launch - you will find pictures and updates earlier in my blog.

The VP of REC (Miller Roberts III) returned to Cap-Haitien last week to lead the second part of the training. I am so impressed with his vision and commitment to this opportunity. At the initial training in October, six "mentor" girls were trained along with about 25 teachers. At the November training, Miller reports that 32 girls were present for 7 hours of training.

He also notes that the principals of the school, both highly respected female leaders (one can be seen in the second picture, to the left), were engaged throughout. What great modeling! Miller reported that the one principal said:

They [the girls] would  need to attend practice every Friday and every day that the school has a holiday. A few of the girls were surprised but without skipping a beat, she told them, “If you are going to be an engineer, then you will be a true engineer and you will attend.” It was pretty amazing.

We will be studying the impact of the robotics program on both the engagement that the program provides for girls and the long-term education and career choices that they make. I am confident that a few, if not many, girls will trace their career trajectory back to the Fall, 2015 when they were introduced to robotics!

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