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All-girl robotics team places third in FIRST Tech Challenge’s ‘Connect’ category

Posted at 10:41 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 05:40:58-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A team of young women from Kaffie Middle School received recognition from a national robotics organization.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — simply regarded as FIRST — organizes several programs seasonally. An all-girl team from Kaffie called “Dolphin Droids” participated in the organization’s FIRST Tech Challenge and soon placed their in their Connect Award category.

According to FIRST’s website, the award is bestowed to those who most connects with their local science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) community.

Kaffie Middle School science teacher Dr. Cindy Hopkins manages the school’s robotics program that meets weekly and is composed of different student groups — which includes boys. She adds that the students from Dolphin Droids went out of their ways to teach others about robotics.

“The girls came and taught robotics classes to the six graders here at Kaffie, as well as they help to put on a stem camp in January when we had intercession,” Hopkins said. “They’ve helped out Veterans (Memorial) team — we had the Veterans team come and use our field — they gave some plans to Driscoll Middle School, they talked to the Moody team… They connected to the community and really told the community what robotics is and so I was excited that they won the award.”

Sophia Sanchez, an 8th grader with Dolphin Droids said the idea of an all-girls team sounded interesting when the idea came up, but ultimately said it shouldn’t matter.

“It’s awesome to be the all-girl team, But it honestly wouldn’t feel any different if we were a mixed team or anything like that,” Sanchez said.

“We are a separate team, but all of the teams which sometimes come together to help each other because we’re all a big team,” another member added.

Hopkins, a longtime teacher, said their middle school is one of the three schools to have a robotics program. It’s been around at Kaffie for about three years, she said.

Although she agrees that the pandemic has made learning more challenging for educators and students alike, Hopkins said seeing the interest within the program goes to show that many students are still eager to learn.

“(Receiving this award) talks about how they persevered during this time,” she said. “A lot of people are talking about that kids are losing learning, well, these girls just showed that’s not the case.

“I really hope that my kids get into engineering and robotics and coding and show everybody it’s easy once you get started.”