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Kingston’s Sisters of Science seeking financial support as team prepares for international robotics competition


All-girls team to travel to California in June or West Virginia in July

KINGSTON, N.S. —

The members of the all-girls robotics team the Sisters of Science are “over the moon” to have an opportunity to compete internationally but they need financial support to make it happen.

At the recent Acadia Robot Programming Competitions, the seven members of the Sisters of Science (S.O.S.) placed third in the provincial FIRST LEGO League (FLL) event. FLL is open to competitors between the ages of nine and 14. The team won the Project Innovative Solution Award and was nominated for the Global Innovation Award.

Coach Sara Chisholm said being nominated for the Global Innovation Award means that the girls’ project was recognized as “a patentable and practical solution to a problem.” As part of the competition, teams are challenged to identify a real-world problem relating to a given topic and propose a solution.

This year, FLL teams were tasked with researching challenges people must overcome to travel throughout the solar system for extended periods of time. The “INTO ORBIT” challenge was designed to spark interest in the science of space travel. The girls researched women in space, recognizing that there still aren’t many female astronauts.

“The girls identified that radiation exposure is one of the reasons that there aren’t as many women in space and why there aren’t as many women in space for long periods of time, because women’s bodies absorb that radiation a little differently,” Chisholm said. “So, they imagined a solution to that.”

Because of the pending patent process, the team isn’t at liberty to reveal much more information at this point. S.O.S. is in the process of submitting for the Global Innovation Award. They’ll learn in April if they are one of 20 teams that qualify to travel to San Jose, California, in June to further develop and refine ideas. The team that wins the California competition will receive $20,000 to develop its invention.

With the third-place finish at Acadia, S.O.S. qualified for the FIRST LEGO League Mountain State Invitational in West Virginia in July. The team has registered for this as well, although Chisholm said they realize that they can’t attend both.

“If in April we find that we are one of the 20 teams selected, we’ll pass our bid to the Mountain State Invitational to the next Nova Scotia team that would have qualified,” Chisholm said.

An online fundraiser for S.O.S. was launched on Feb. 21 on the website www.gofundme.com. The online goal is $18,000 and $1,610 had been raised as of March 9. Chisholm said they greatly appreciate the generosity being shown.

The girls are very excited and are ready to meet the fundraising challenge head-on. Chisholm said it’s expected to cost approximately $20,000 for the seven members and three coaches to make the trip to California.

The girls are planning local fundraisers, including a school bake sale, and they’ll be making a presentation to the Kingston Lions to see if the service club can help them stage a fundraising event.

Chisholm said it probably wouldn’t cost as much to make the trip to West Virginia, so if they don’t make the cut to go to California, they’ll reduce the overall fundraising goal.

If they are fortunate enough to raise $20,000 before the announcement is made in April and it turns out that they won’t be going to California, S.O.S. will use the excess funds to help other robotics teams with travel expenses.

“We help each other, that’s one of the core values of the FIRST LEGO, we’re all in this together,” Chisholm said.

In the beginning, the team received financial start-up support from Michelin, which Chisholm said was great. The goal for the team was full participation on the part of members and providing learning opportunities, not necessarily winning competitions. Chisholm said it’s amazing to see how it has blossomed into something wonderful for the S.O.S. members.

“Kids don’t go into solving problems with the same kind of blinders as adults do,” Chisholm said. “They don’t have the same limitation in ideas of what is possible and practical and what isn’t. Sometimes that makes them all the more innovative in their solutions.”

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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