A University of Sussex student society, led by Informatics students, has had a hugely successful first year, running workshops with 324 pupils from local schools, 234 of whom were girls. Robogals Sussex aim to address the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) by running hands on robotics workshops with young people and providing positive role models.
The society, which is a local chapter of the international Robogals organisation, had support from the School of Engineering and Informatics and the Widening Participation team in getting set up, but is entirely run by student volunteers. The committee, led by Ryan Coughlan, attended the UK Robogals conference in February, and since then have designed and run 8 workshops for local young people.
Ryan Coughlan – President
Emily Rouse – Secretary/Treasurer
Olivia Thorne / Francis Poole – Training Managers
Michalis Efstathiou – Marketing Manager
Susie Coleman – Schools Manager
Dr Kate Howland, academic lead for widening participation and outreach in Informatics, said “the Robogals team have done a fantastic job of running fun, engaging and informative workshops. When attending their recent Widening Participation workshops on campus, I was really impressed by their leadership and communication skills. The pupils were having a great time, and were clearly very focused on the challenges they had been set, including getting the robots to navigate mazes, avoid obstacles and follow paths. It is great to see some of our best and brightest students giving so much time and energy to inspire and teach pupils who we hope will go on to be the computer scientists and engineers of the future.”
The committee have also recruited a wider team of student volunteers from Engineering, Physics, Life Sciences and English. With some committee members graduating in July, new opportunities for getting involved will soon be open. Interested students should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up to the Sussex Robogals Volunteers page.
(all photos by Morten Watkins)