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Botball Robotics And Gender Differences In Middle School Teams

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Outreach: Future Women in Engineering II

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.262.1 - 9.262.10

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Paper Authors

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Cathryne Stein

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Botball Robotics and Gender Differences in Middle School Teams

Cathryne Stein KISS Institute for Practical Robotics

Kim Nickerson Norman Public Schools

Abstract The Botball Educational Robotics Program is useful in sparking and maintaining an early interest in engineering and technology. Thousands of middle and high school students across the country have participated in Botball, many of them in all-girl or all-boy teams. Botball gives students experience in working as a team to strategize, design, build, and program a pair of autonomous mobile robots from a kit. They learn to trouble-shoot, to document their procedures, and to stay focused on a long-term goal. This paper describes Botball, an engineering outreach program for middle and high school students and their teachers (now available at the collegiate level as well). This paper will also discuss the National Conference on Educational Robotics, which includes the National Botball Tournament and also provides early opportunities for middle school through college students to present and publish research papers. The first year in which an all-girl Botball team participated in the program, they won the national championship in the robotics head to head division. Are there differences in how girls and boys approach being on a robotics team? Does it matter whether they’re on an all-girl, all-boy, or mixed team? The authors ran focus groups with middle school Botball participants. Our purpose was to gain some insight into whether there might be gender-related differences in approach to participating in Botball at this age. Introduction Years ago, a seventeen year old girl graduated first in her high school class and headed out to the University of Oklahoma to study aeronautical engineering. Her university advisor told her flatly “Girls can’t be engineers!” She stood her ground and eventually earned a degree in aerospace mechanical engineering, but throughout her studies she was the only girl in her engineering classes .1 As unthinkable as her advisor’s comment is today, there was nothing unusual about it at that time. More extraordinary was the passionate seventeen year old who was so driven by her dream that she then went on to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), where as an aerodynamicist, she was the only degreed female out of 2000 engineers. Donna Shirley is known today as the former

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Stein, C. (2004, June), Botball Robotics And Gender Differences In Middle School Teams Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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