In a four-day mega-event, the Mayfield/Girls Scouts of America robotics team immersed themselves in a world of transformative STEM experiences, interacting and learning with the top 5% of student robotics teams on the planet. Yes, planet!
Our celebrated robotics team, named the Javabots (because they love all things coffee), participated in the prestigious FIRST Robotics Competition, which brought 15,000 students from 26 states and 19 countries to Houston.
In a significant honor, the Javabots were named finalists for the MOTIVATE award, which recognized the team’s community outreach efforts at home. In addition, they garnered some attention when they were interviewed live on the local CBS evening news
“It was so inspiring to meet so many people my own age who are involved in robotics and so passionate about what they do,” said Agnese Sanavio ’20, who joined the Javabots only this school year. “It has really motivated me to work to the best of my ability.”
The massive convention-like competition, held at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, Minute Maid Park and Discovery Green, tests students’ innovation skills and celebrates science, technology, engineering and math in a high-energy atmosphere that is sure to be a touchstone for the rest of their lives.
Plus, they partied!
The event treated these thousands of STEM students like rock stars, with live concerts, roller skating, and DJs blasting tunes to robotic competition moves. Major engineering and technology corporations clearly see their future in these teenagers and converged on students with swag, mentoring advice, and career-oriented displays and booths.
Team member Julianne Tighe ’19, who will be studying engineering at Duke University in the fall, described the Javabots’ participation as an exciting chance “to meet people from other teams, study winning robots, talk to people from the industry and be in the moment for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
This is Mayfield’s second year of partnership with the Girl Scouts of America robotics team, a union formed to meld the impressive work of the scouts with the mission of our outstanding all-girls school. For our part, we opened the doors of Turner Center to house the team and its equipment. The Girls Scouts opened team membership to Mayfield students, who also join the Girl Scouts.
“We are confident that these girls will go on to produce technological and engineering breakthroughs that will improve our lives and welfare,” said Melissa Tighe, Mayfield Math Department Chair and Director Innovation. “What is so heartening is to see the bonds that our students are forming with girls from the scouting community, and the affirming power the Girl Scouts experience through Mayfield’s all-girl, Holy Child learning environment.”
Earlier this spring the performance of their robot, named “Brew-ce” (a coffee pun!), was strong enough to advance to the highly competitive western regional finals. Then, they got super lucky—winning a lottery drawing to attend the world competition!
For week the team worked to strengthen Brew-ce’s mechanisms, which enable him to rove around a pen, lift and move balls and other units into a basket. Although they did not advance in the world competition, Brew-ce performed better at each of several matches and the Javabots distinguished themselves in their community outreach and spirit on a world stage.
They have volunteered as peer tutors and teenage role models to younger Girl Scouts through the region. Earlier this month they organized and hosted a successful regional Girl Scouts robotic expo at the Pasadena Library attended by about 300 girls who wanted to learn more about robotics and STEM education.
“The work that the Javabots is doing and the MOTIVATE award is so rewarding because it’s about who we are at Mayfield,” Mrs. Tighe said. “It says we care about other young women and want to share our learning with a diverse group of students.”
The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, an association of more than 250 PK-12 all girls school around the world, has selected the Mayfield-Girls Scout robotics partnership as a prime model for community based robotics and STEM enrichment and will be visiting the program during a summer conference.
Agnese typifies the enthusiasm inside the robotics lab. She has always been interested in math and science and the welcoming atmosphere of the Javabots sealed her commitment to further studies. The opportunity to attend the world robotics competition further opened her eyes to possibilities.
“I just know that the all of the people I met at worlds will be the people I’m going to be working with in the future,” she said. “And the future is very bright because all these kids are just so amazing.”
High-fives and thank yous!
We are especially grateful to the Javabot team mentors—mostly JPL experts—for serving as top-notch engineers, computer programmers and designers who guide and inspire our girls:
Julie Townsend, team founder and the Engineering Operations Team Chief and Deputy, Robotic Arm Systems Engineer for JPL’s Mars Exploration Rovers
Phoebe and Ben Wickett, build and 3D design mentors from JPL
Cindy Oda, software mentor form JPL; Craig McFarlane, programming mentor
Dale Gallego, build and workshop mentor from Western Diagnostic Imaging Systems
Cecily Sunday, build and 3D CAD design mentor from JPL
And let’s give high praise to the Javabots for their smarts, their perseverance to build a robot and their bright future as women in STEM!
Isabella Leifer ’19
Agnese Sanavio ’20
Julianne Tighe ’19
Grace Vipapan ’21