Grant expands robotics opportunities for Girl Scouts

2013-09-19T20:36:00Z 2013-09-20T16:35:08Z Grant expands robotics opportunities for Girl ScoutsBy EDDIE GREGG egregg@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Thanks to a grant from the Women’s Foundation of Montana, sisters Kyra and Kyla White are part of a Girl Scouts Lego robotics team in Billings.

The Women’s Foundation presented the Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming with an $8,060 grant Thursday night that will support four all-girl First Lego League robotics teams across the state.

“It was very exciting that we got this big donation from the Women’s Foundation,” 12-year-old Kyla said. “That’s what paid for a lot of robots.”

“Just the stuff to build the robots — and all of the Legos go doot-da-doot-da-do,” 9-year-old Kyra added, as she built a Lego robot in the air.

“I like to build Legos,” she said.

“We’re really excited about it just because we think it’s a really fun way to get girls involved in science,” said Jen Euell, program director for the Women’s Foundation of Montana, after the grant was presented during a reception at Rocky Mountain College.

The Women’s Foundation of Montana promotes the economic self-sufficiency of women and financially supports other organizations that work towards that end, including Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming.

“They’re able to serve more girls than many other programs because they have a statewide reach,” Euell said. “They’re the best investment.”

The grant will support First Lego League teams of girls ages 9 to 14 in Billings, Great Falls, Bozeman and Butte.

Through the First Lego League, kids work in teams, often for months, to build their robots and program them to complete certain tasks during competitions.

The international organization’s mission is to get “children excited about science and technology – and teach them valuable employment and life skills.”

The 2011-2012 Girl Scouts team from Billings won an “Inspire” award, which qualified the team to participate in the First Lego League World Championships in Saint Louis, according to Andrea Kenney of Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming, and the 2012-2013 Girl Scouts team from Bozeman took 2nd place for the presentation of their project.

Billings Girl Scout Esabeau Harrington, 11, said she doesn’t understand why anybody wouldn’t want to be a part of Lego robotics competitions.

“It’s Legos and robotics. Put them together, and it’s the best,” said Esabeau, who plans to be a dentist when she grows up.

“Not of a lot of people want to do it,” she said of her profession of choice. “So it’s something we need in the world.”

Kyla said she plans to keep her grades up and pursue athletics. Her sister Kyra wants to be a veterinarian.

“I want stay a couple more years in college and do vet school,” she said. “And then become a vet for, like, large animals, and then still do small animals, but mainly large.”

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