In Minnesota, a lot of us have a European background, and in FIRST Robotics, about 80% of the participants are male. At Duluth’s Double DECCer Regional these norms were challenged. A robotics team from Austrialia, Thunder from Down Under, hosted a FIRST Ladies tea held for all female participants and any males that wanted to join. There were a few all-female teams in attendance, but amid all of the yellow, pink, red, and blue shirts, one stuck out in particular.
Phoenix Robotics Team 2479 is an all-female group from Minneosta College Prep High School, a northern Minneapolis charter school with a 100% multicultural team. To help shed some light, Bushra Chebli and Hibaa Roba were happy to share a few details. Phoenix was born from the inspiration of a robotics presentation at their school. Chebli explained that the team started out with a mere four or five people. Their mascot, the Phoenix, came from their school mascot. A Phoenix seems fitting as this mythical bird is born from ashes, these students started new lives in the United States exploring the realm of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math). These girls come from many different backgrounds explains Chebli, “ We have some atheists, Christians, and Muslims on our team, and we come from Thailand, me and my sister are from Pakistan, [Hibaa] is from Yemen, we have some from Kenya, Somalia, and African American and one from Honduras”. And they seem to work very well together; as demonstrated by the group maintaining their robot. The girls were excited to see how their team has grown in only three years.
In the world today, women in STEM is a very electric topic and this team is sure to turn heads. As Chebli puts it, “our school is 100% students of color, and what is interesting is that only girls wanted to join our team this year, so we had to have an all girls team of minority students so I find that very interesting so we’re really going to break into the STEM field, ya know?” and break they shall. With more and more women joining the STEM and FIRST community, it will be exciting to see how these teams and women will shape and influence our world, showing that anyone can work together, one team at a time.