Hippie Pandas win Champions Award and 1st place Robot Performance!

[The following post was submitted to us by Cheryl Lawniczak for the Hippie Pandas. If you’d like to submit your story, email communications@gswny.org]

The GSWNY FIRST Lego Robotics team Hippie Pandas has won Champions Award and our robot scored the highest points at their first competition. They have earned a spot in the Finger Lakes Regional Championship  tournament which is December 8th.

This year.s theme is City Shapers and they had to come up with an innovative solution to help our community with a building or public space. The problem they chose was there was no outdoor activity that would be accessible to all ages and abilities to promote community cooperation and interaction. Their project was to build an Interactive Musical Park featuring The Hippie  Panda Musical Tower of Play and Freenotes Harmony Park outdoor percussion instruments.

During the research the talked with many experts: Town Supervisor, Director of Parks and Recreation, Construction Manager who recently installed the ADA playground at a local school, an Industrial Hygienist to determine sound levels and the Richard Cooke the Grammy Award winning inventor of Freenotes Harmony Park instruments!

The girls’ robot has innovative design that allows quick change out of attachments. They call the concept the Universal Gravity Attachments. Their robot activates LEGO mission models such as aligning a crane and lowering the load onto a building, removing a traffic jam, releasing a wheelchair swing, lowering an elevator, staging modular buildings across the field and raising flags on a bridge.

It’s been an exciting year and they are busy preparing for the Regional!

Kate Gleason – Women’s History Month Day 4

Today our incredible woman holds the title of the first female engineer. In a time when engineering schools wouldn’t admit women, Kate Gleason found a way. Even better, Kate was from our very own Rochester.

Born Catherine Anselm Gleason, Kate was born into a mechanical family. Her father owned a machine shop and at a young age she started her education by studying books about machines and engineering.

At age 11, she stepped in to help her father at his shop after her oldest brother, his primary support, died of typhoid. In a time when this would’ve naturally be met with resistance, some researchers believe he let her help without protest due to her mother’s friendship with none other than Susan B. Anthony, famed women’s rights advocate.

Eight years later, Kate entered the Mechanical Arts program at Cornell as the first woman to enter the engineering program. Unfortunately, she was never able to complete her degree. Soon her father’s shop faced some financial troubles so she returned to Rochester to assist him.

This didn’t stop her from earning the title of engineer. She continued to seek out education when she could, including class at the Sibley College of Engraving and the Mechanics Institute, now known as the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Within a few years, she helped expand the company into Europe, one of the first American manufacturers to do so. These international sales remain a core portion of their business.

Today, Gleason Corp. is a top provider around the world of the technologies, machines, and tools used to make the gears found in almost anything you can imagine, including power tools, vehicles, wind turbines, and airplanes. This is largely because of the work she and her brothers did to help expand the business.

Her career didn’t stop at helping her father’s shop. As World War I broke out, the president of the First National Bank of Rochester left to go serve, leaving the space wide open for Kate. She was the first woman to serve as the president of a national bank without family ties.

In this role, she drew on her engineering knowledge and began to think about low-cost housing options for workers. After developing a new pouring method, her work grew into a model for the future.

It was in 1918 that the American Society of Engineers elected her as their first female member. Their decision was unanimous given all of her impressive work.

Her legacy continues in many forms, including

  • “The Kate Gleason College of Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology became the first engineering school in the country to be named for a woman” (1998)
  • RIT also created the “Kate Gleason Endowed Chair in 2003 for a professor, who among other qualities motivates women in engineering activities and builds ‘upon the tradition of Kate Gleason as a role model for women in engineering.'” (2003)
  • “The American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Foundation established the Kate Gleason Award recognizing the contribution of distinguished female leaders in the engineering profession” (2011)
  • Quotes via ASME

Read more about Kate Gleason:

Why STEM Matters for Girls: The Girl Scout Difference

Over the summer, Girl Scouts announced 30 new STEM badges for girls as well as new journeys. In November 2017, the organization pledged to raise $70 million to help bring 2.5 million girls into the STEM pipeline by 2025. While many viewed this news with enthusiasm, some still ask why it matters. Others argue not every girl wants to be in a STEM field and worry Girl Scouts is moving away from its roots in the outdoors. We’re here to help you understand.

What is STEM?

Before we continue, it’s important to identify exactly what STEM is. The acronym stands for science, technology, mathematics, and engineering, four subjects most girls in the United States will be exposed to, yet few will pursue.


Why don’t more girls pursue STEM fields?

Think about the clothes you’ve seen in the kids section. The girls have frilly shirts covered with sparkles, claiming things like ‘when I grow up, I want to be a mermaid’ or ‘princess’ or ‘unicorn.’ Meanwhile boys clothes will say things like ‘astronaut.’

Realize it or not, girls are conditioned to think about more ‘feminine’ careers from a young age. This is encouraged through stereotypes and the underlying current of sexism that still plagues our society. One of our studies found that girls were less likely to raise their hand to answer a math question if boys were in the room, even when they knew the answer.

Since we started doing STEM programming, we’ve seen success in our Girl Scouts in a number of ways. One of the most startling is when a girl admits she thought boys were just better at STEM-related activities until she was engaged in them herself. If you want to read more about that and other revelations, check out the full report.

Basically, at some point it became assumed that STEM wasn’t for girls. We’re trying to change that perception.

It goes beyond the STEM pipeline

While we strive for equality in the workforce, both in job selection and salary, it isn’t our sole reason for encouraging STEM in our girls. Most people remember that Girl Scouts is about building girls of courage, confidence, and character, but they may not know the crucial second half: who make the world a better place.

We know there are things in this world that can be improved. Through our journeys and badges, we help girls learn about taking care of the planet and conservation. We encourage them to be away of their impact and what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Simply put, we were a girl-led green movement before it became popular.

We know it’s not for every girl

We’re continuing to add STEM badges in areas like cybersecurity, but it doesn’t mean we think every girl needs to become an engineer or scientist. We just believe every girl has the right to choose exactly what she wants to do, and we want to increase her chances of success by exposing her to different fields.

Maybe your Girl Scout wants to be a park ranger. Or a stay at home mom. Or an accountant. Or a veterinarian. Or maybe even a princess. We’re here to support her no matter what, so your girl can have courage, confidence, and character to make the world a better place in her own chosen way.