Dec 22, 2006

Women, help me out here!

Mothers, Daughters, Aunts, Nieces, Women who are teachers, engineers or just plain interested in things mechanical, Fathers of daughters....

We need your input! While, my fellow bloggers are talented, smart and nice people, they are also all men. If we are to meet the needs and interests of the entire NXT community, your input is very much needed and sincerely desired. (I'm assuming—hopefully correctly—that there are females among the millions of children receiving NXT kits for Christmas this year. )

Girls, what do you like about the NXT? What kinds of things would you like to be able to build? LEGO League team leaders, are there certain kinds of projects that seem to particularly appeal to the girls on your teams?

While our first book is yet to be published, we are already talking about possible future books. I can offer input as an intelligent woman with four sons—but I have no daughters and I'm no scientist. So, please, help me out here!

9 comments:

Jim Kelly said...

Fay,

I have a 3 year old niece who I hope grows to develop an interest in how things work... I'll be watching and listening carefully to readers' feedback.

Jim

David Levy said...

My FLL Team has three 4th grade girls each of which have received a NXT kit of their own as holiday gifts.

The The Society of Women Engineers had hosted a series of workshops for the teams at the Virginia State championship. Team TIKI pictured here also has quite a few girls on their team. They scored a 399 on the table and will be representing the State of Virginia in the world championships!

Anonymous said...

At, Tufts I've done work with early elementary through college classrooms with LEGO based projects. There are definitely some girls that really enjoy the classic competition aspect of LEGO robotics and that you can do the exact same building projects as with boys. But, there is also a segment of girls that really are turned off by head to head competition (a la Battlebots) and classic robots. We've had greater success engaging these girls with projects that are less about competition and more creative - build a robotic animal or an electronic musical instrument or a toy for a young child or a smart obstacle for a mini golf course.

Girls tend to be better about collaborating with partners and plannng before they build (which can be a problem if all the good pieces are gone before they start building). Girls tend to care more about the context of the challenge they are working on. So, projects like build the slowest car (to learn gearing) isn't as engaging as build a snail car (Barbara Bratzel's Physics by Design book has a great activity on this). Instead of "Can your robot climb the steepest incline?" - something like "How quickly can you rescue beanie babies or LEGO people from the top of a mountain." A project that has constraints and trade-offs that need to balanced really take advantage of some girls' more contemplative nature.

I think bluetooth and the screen display may offer some great ways to engage girls in projects around communication and art.

I definitely think girls should learn to compete (just like boys should learn to collaborate). I personally think that for some girls learning to compete, build and program all at the same time can be overwhelming. I generally try to build up building and programming skills (in boys and girls) before introducing competition. It's a skill to win and lose gracefully and I think if you don't know how to compete it can really negatively impact how you regard building and programing.

Fay Rhodes said...

Merre,

This is great information. Thank you!

Fay

Anonymous said...

I ran a sat. workshop for middle school kids (3 girls 1 boy signed up). The boy and his partner built the edukit standard robot then the boy helped the 2 girls in the other team build theirs. They had mistaken a couple of 90 deg. beams. I used robolab because the lego env. is just so slow.

The girls latched onto the piano feature as soon as i showed it to them. They quickly got their fight song going then they showed the boy how to use it. Remember middle school is where music starts for many kids. Piano was a big hit.

(flame on) i also did a after-school program at an elementary school. Even at full volume, the kids couldn't hear the words with just the ambient noise in a mostly-empty halleway. LEGO could easily have made the NXT sound a lot more varied and interesting.(flame off)
bobcook47@hotmail.com
:( i forgot my password becaz i dont post that often.

Jenna said...

I am 49 years old, technical writer by profession and I play with lego again since 2000 (you can see my lego on www.brickshelf.com, member jenna).

The thing is, I think, girls have a different creative world than boys, it is more focussed on subjects like care, communities, fantasy.

Unfortunately, since lego has a name that it is a boy's toy, girls hesitate to go and play with it. I try to teach girls in my environment that you shouldn't look at the masculin presentation of lego, but at the bricks and pieces and what you can do with it. And also ... loose the idea of competition, do your own thing with lego.

I may be able to borrow a nxt from a friend here after christmas.. can't wait to get my hands on it :), then I will try and be creative with it together with my fosterdaughter who is 9 now.

I do think that girls are much more into colour and harmonious shapes than boys, so the endresult of our efforts (I will show it on my brickshelf by then) will probably enhanced with a few more colourful bricks :)

greetz

Anonymous said...

I'm a 43 year old system engineer. My husband surprised me with 8527 for Christmas. I'm much better at programming than mechanical engineering. I love the challenge approach in the NXT software ... solve the puzzle on your own and then see how they solved it. Wish there were more challenges embedded, but bet we can come up with some of our own

Jim Grandinetti said...

Will Barbara write an EV3 version of her popular "Physics by Design"?

Jim Grandinetti said...

Will Barbara write an EV3 version of her popular "Physics by Design"?

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