Penn State Berks’ newly expanded Berks LaunchBox hosted several troops of Girl Scout Cadettes for a Robotics Workshop in December. Girl Scout Troops 134, 1221 and 1628 participated in the event at the Berks LaunchBox, located within the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading.
To complete the Girl Scouts’ Programming Robotics badge requirements, 18 Girl Scout Cadettes (grades six to eight) completed various tasks in four stations during the workshop. The most popular involved creating a LED greeting card. This station required the scouts to build a circuit using a light bulb, copper tape, and a battery. They were excited to have their card glow when the circuit was complete.
The Cadettes also learned about other technologies, including LEGO Mindstorms, which allows users to build and program robots. The scouts used LEGO Mindstorms to enable their robot follow basic commands. They also programmed a video game using Scratch, software that allows users to program their own interactive stories, games, and animations. In addition, littleBits, a system of electronic building blocks that snap together to turn ideas into inventions, was introduced to the scouts. The Cadettes created a series of solutions to the workshop challenges by building circuits that created a dimmable light, magic eight ball, and a feather duster using littleBits input and output components.
According to Solange Israel-Mintz, Berks LaunchBox coordinator, the goal of this introductory hands-on workshop was for girls to learn the basics of robotics. She stated, “A good way to think about a robot is that it is a computer that moves.”
The Girl Scouts learned that a simple set of instructions can be used to solve a problem or complete a task. The workshop also reinforced that careers in STEM fields are open to anyone interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
This one-time event was completed in just a few hours. More in-depth week-long middle school camps are held during the summer at Penn State Berks. For more information, visit https://berks.psu.edu/middle-school-summer-camps.
Berks LaunchBox provides makerspace, co-working space and accelerator programs for innovators and entrepreneurs. One of 14 Launchboxes, Berks LaunchBox is a signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative which has provided seed grant funding for 21 innovation hubs in Pennsylvania.