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Girl Powered: My Journey Through Robotics (by Lyra Sagez)

Soi Chong Powell's robotics team is doing amazing things! One of the team members, Lyra Sagez, has entered an essay in the VEX Robotics contest. Please take a moment and read her touching words below about her teammates and how robotics has influenced her. You can vote for her essay by clicking on the register button and logging in. Good luck Lyra!
 
I know girl powered may seem simple, and that some don’t believe in girl power, but I do. I hope you are ready to hear what girl power really is, because the fact is that girls can change the world through technology.
This year, I turned 10 years old and moved to a new school. I was anxious about finding friends, or just girls, for that matter, that liked things like math, science, and technology like me. Automatically, I was excited to learn that there was a 4th Grade robotics club. I immediately joined hoping there would be some girls there that would be like me. In robotics, I found only 2 other girls there which worried me a little. In the past when I had been on boy / girl teams, some of the boys have pushed the girls away saying that robotics is more of a boy thing.
When we were put into teams, I was surprised to find that I was to be in an all-girl am.  Rahini, Greta and I called ourselves the Darth Barbies.  As a team made up of all girls, I think initially we were underestimated. Some of the boys just flat out didn't have the correct amount of respect for us. We built up respect by doing the exact same things as they did.
In the beginning, we were building the basic EV3 sumobot by the book.  We each took turns completing steps, which was exciting for me.  Typically, when I had worked on other teams it was a challenge to get to take an action role, because the boys tended to jump in first. I quickly learned that being on an all-girl team definitely has its advantages‐‐it allows each girl to individually shine!!!
For example, it was a big challenge building the robot from scratch. We spent a lot of time building the robots’ arm, while the boys finished theirs in a jiffy.  We were building it for almost 1 hour and 30 minutes. The main problem was that every time we tried to push the axle through to connect things we would push so hard our hands hurt. Eventually, I had the idea to use my little sister’s binder to push the axle. We all pushed together and fixed the problem! We were slower at building than the other boys teams were, but we found that we were just as capable. Rahini used her creativity to come up with the idea to add extra sensors to the robot. By the time we were half finished both boys teams were done and already doing sumo fights. This was discouraging at first to me, but Greta never let her or our spirits drop. Instead, she just kept us going, making sure all the pieces were placed precisely.
When we were finally done with our robot, we found that the batteries needed charging.  We waited for 3 hours total, and the robot would still not turn on.  This lead us to the conclusion that the batteries were dead.  It turned out the new batteries only lasted for about 10 minutes.  We soon realized that it was just a problem with the brain and so we got a new one and fixed that up.  We finished up the sumo on a high note and even won some battles!
Then, we switched to VEX and my dad came in to help.  We built the course and now we are getting ready for our first competition on the 28th of January. One of the recent challenges we faced was to decide who is going to do what during the competition. The frustrating thing was that the boys didn’t want the girls to be the driver. Instead, they suggested the girls should make shirt designs and to be supporters on the sidelines. The girls got together and stood up for ourselves. So, we decided to have a competition to see who the fastest driver was. The full results of this competition aren’t in yet, but I’m confident and excited for our first competition.
Robotics and my all girl team have changed my life. I have learned a lot, made some friends, and now I may even want to become a technology designer and creator. I learned how to program which is a very useful skill in these modern years and for my generation, and I learned that I have great building skills in robotics. To a lot of people programing and technology based careers are more for boys and not girls. I know that girls can invent and create technology no matter what anyone else thinks.  My dad works at Lieberman Technology in Evansville, Indiana and he always tells me that I can do or be anything if I really want to and this is really motivating for me and hopefully to all the other girls out there who are reading this story.
Through VEX robotics, I've learned that you don't have to be someone special to do something special.  Not everyone is some popular singer or movie star, but everyone can do things that are special or important.  Some people are boring, typical, and even shy but they can still be amazing on the inside and break out of their shell and do something special.  Someday, I want to prove to the world that together girls can do anything!
I think we learned a lot more being on an all-girl team, because we got to do the building ourselves.  The best thing about it was that we all believed in each other and enjoyed doing it.  I'm proud to say that our robot is 100 percent girl powered!