Hillsborough County girls learn to build robots

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – Comfort Anyanwu, a 9th-grader, gets emotional when she talks about how much her family supports her dreams of having a career in science. Along with 19 other students, she’s spending the weekend at the Girls Underwater Robot Camp at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. Students from 10 to 15 years old learn to build underwater drones.

“What happens when you do hands on things is the experience can never be taken from you,” Anyanwu said. “It’s a muscle memory thing. The things I learn here I’ll remember the rest of my life. I can learn a definition in class and forget it in no time.”

All of the girls come from tough backgrounds and are part of Mission: Tampa Bay. The group, “aims to break the cycle of poverty by reaching out to bright students from underprivileged backgrounds and making the most of their desire to learn about S.T.E.M. fields – science, technology, engineering, and math.”

Erika Bergman, a National Geographic Explorer and manned submersible pilot, guides the girls through the build.

“It’s impressive to see these girls finish the robots at lightning speed,” Bergman said. “”The bigger picture is what they will accomplish in five and ten years when they’re my colleagues out on a research ship. I’m excited to have a whole bunch of female colleagues because right now I just don’t have them.”

The students are part of a bigger project. They can even communicate with other girls all over the world doing similar work. Saturday night they’ll sleep at the Florida Aquarium and wake up to test their projects, even going on a boat.

“Just seeing how bright and happy and how connected everybody is is amazing,” Anyanwu said. “To know there are girls all over the world doing this and being connected through a project like this is mind-blowingly amazing,”

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