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Rosemont forms all-girls robotics team


The team needs one more student to participate

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Last year the Wilsonville-West Linn robotics team, 1425, Error Code Xero, won the regional championship at the Seattle Olympic Regional and attended the world competition. Rosemont Ridge Middle School is working to build an all-girls club. But this isn’t your average, Little Rascals style-club where girls rule and boys drool — it’s West Linn’s first ever all-girls robotics team.

Rosemont parent and robotics volunteer Tim Manes is the driving force behind what will become the all-girls Lego Robotics team. Manes first helped establish robotics teams several years ago at Cedaroak Park Primary School for his son. He witnessed his first all-girls team while watching his then fourth-grade son compete.

“How they perform is completely different than the boys in that they communicate better, they are better team players and presenters,” Manes said. “The girls I’ve seen perform are just as capable of engineering or maybe even better because they can communicate their information.”

But Manes is disappointed by the lack of female participation in West Linn. He said the problem, however, isn’t isolated to West Linn, but the world.

“I believe there is a stereotype that girls shouldn’t play with Legos or even be engineers or scientists,” he said. “The stereotype is that girls are nurses and teachers and engineers and scientists...

“I think it’s hard to convince girls that this is something they would be interested in and that they are actually capable of it. Unless there is a real passion there, I don’t know that they feel comfortable stepping into an all-boys situation.”

Which is why Manes and science teachers at Rosemont Ridge Middle School are trying to foster a welcoming environment for girls. He hopes the team will encourage others to form throughout the school district.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The team 1425, Error Code Xero is comprised of West Linn and Wilsonville students. According to the Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach, there are all-girls teams at every level of robotics competition.

“We’ve almost always had all-girl teams since we started in 2001,” said Cathy Swider of ORTOP. “Currently, 28 percent of all of our team members — 1,260 of 4,500 — are girls. We work every year to increase that percentage.”

This year the Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program received a grant from Intel through the national FIRST organization. The grant allows the organization to fund and support six all-girl FIRST LEGO League teams and learn how to recruit, engage and retain more young women in FIRST programs.

Two girls from Rosemont Ridge Middle School have already joined the team. At least three students are required. However, Manes has already registered the girls’ team. The team even has a coach, a female chemical engineer who works for Lam Research. Once a third teammate is found, the girls will join two other Lego Robotics teams at Rosemont.

All three teams will compete in a qualifying tournament in December. Approximately 25 percent of teams will advance to the Oregon state two-day tournament, which will be held in January at Liberty High School. The top teams will go on from there to compete at the World Festival in Atlanta.

Each year, the robotics teams work to solve a societal problem. Last year’s topic was food safety. This year it’s senior solutions. Before and after the teams compete, they will present their solution to groups like city council and neighborhood associations.

“This isn’t about playing with Legos,” Manes said. “It’s tough. It’s about adding motors and computers. It’s actually a great sport for children to challenge themselves mentally and do things that are more thought provoking or experimental.

“The huge component is a solution to a real-world problem and it’s about working with the community.”

For more information about the Rosemont Ridge Middle School all-girls Lego Robotics team, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Registration is $75. Scholarships are available through the school district. A maximum of 10 people can join the team.

For more information about the Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program, visit ortop.org.