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During the first week of training, I was tasked with the STEM lesson titled “Ozobots.” This lesson was for the third week of camp, which focuses on robotics. When the small robot, a sheet of paper, and a pack of markers appeared on my table, my curiosity was piqued. Who wouldn’t be excited to play with robots at work? I took the markers out of their pack, grabbed the coding sheet, and got to work. Soon enough, my paper was filled with multi-colored lines that represented code for the Ozobot to read and execute. The Ozobot cruised around the black lines, changing speed, making turns, and even zig-zagging throughout the course. I couldn’t wait to teach this lesson to the girls during camp; if I was this enamored by the Ozobots, I could only imagine how the girls will react.

After completing the third week of camp, I can confidently say that the girls were just as excited about the Ozobots as I was that first week of training. Starting class at 8:30am isn’t always easy, but the girls’ faces lit up as soon as the Ozobots were placed on their tables. While the girls were happy to just play with the Ozobots, I wanted to engage them more in the coding process. We had the girls code a story on a giant piece of poster paper that Ozobot would travel through. They could recreate a fairy tale, their favorite movie, or come up with a story of their own as long as they implemented code for Ozobot that enhanced the end product. At the end of class, each group presented their story and the girls were so proud of their work. I even had girls asking if they could keep working on their stories after class!

Fifteen days into camp and I’ve truly been able to develop meaningful relationships with the girls. Not only do I get to see the middle schoolers each day during STEM, but I’ve also had the opportunity to hang out with the high schoolers during Girls Inc. classes, enrichment, and workshops. I love engaging the girls in lessons like this one because they allow me to share my knowledge of coding and computer science. This week has given me a lot of time to get to know the girls on a more personal level. From conversations during class to Cross the Line, an activity that allows the girls to be vulnerable with each other, I’ve realized that these girls have overcome more than I will ever know. I learn just as much from them as they hopefully do from me, and that has been the biggest takeaway so far from this experience.