GLEN CARBON – Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois has received a $25,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund to support Girl Scout robotics teams in Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties.
Robotics are a key component of the organization’s goal of giving girls opportunities and guidance in science, engineering, technology and math, officials said. Girls are able to participate in three different robotics leagues at three different age levels.
Mary Buchanan, the organization’s robotics manager, said: “Engaging girls in STEM in fun, creative ways helps keep their interest in these valuable career fields, as well as develop their confidence, teamwork and problem solving abilities.”
The grant is part of a broad commitment by what the Monsanto Fund says is its focus on strengthening the Greater St. Louis community, where Monsanto Fund and Monsanto Company are headquartered.
The local Scouts’ robotics season starts this fall with FIRST LEGO League. In this global robotics program for 9 to 14 year olds, participants build and program a robot using LEGO components. Teams also conduct a research project and explore FLL Core Values such as active participation, teamwork and gracious professionalism. After months of practice and preparation, teams begin competing at regional tournaments, with the highest scoring teams proceeding to a global tournament.
Grant money will also be used to support several Junior FIRST Lego League teams and two Botball teams, which belong to a league that challenges middle and high school students to build two autonomous robots then program them using C, C++ or Java. The robots perform a series of preprogrammed tasks in direct competition with another team at the same table. Botball teams will compete at regional tournaments in the spring, with top scoring teams advancing to global competition.
In 2013, the local council had the only all-Girl Scout Botball teams in the world.
The grant will also allow GSSI to purchase additional equipment to facilitate the robotics program, including robot kits and tablets. Financial assistance for girls who cannot afford the $15 registration fee to join Girl Scouts will also be provided.
In 2009, GSSI had just one robotics team. In 2014, they fielded 24 teams.
For more information, contact Jay Strobel, GSSI Chief Communications Officer at (618) 692-0692.