LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston High School (LHS) rising juniors Annica Lam and Elaina Mann are on a mission to attract other young girls to the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Lam conceived the idea of Girls Robotics Initiative in Technology (GRIT) in 2019 and joined with Mann in May to begin developing workshops as a fun foray into robotics, teaching programming, mechanics, robotics and Internet security to participants.

According to Lam, GRIT is a “non-profit organization that empowers young women to be involved in the STEM community by educating and sparking their interests in coding, building and more.”

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Lam is also the founder of “Exit 5A Robotics,” an all-girls robotics team developed six years ago that has since participated in various robotics competitions on the national and international level, such as First Lego League (FLL), World Robot Olympiad (WRO) and VEX Robotics Competition (VRC).

“Because of FLL, we were able to participate in various outreaches in which we introduced kids to robotics,” said Mann, adding that the teammates noticed continuously over the years that there are not many young females involved in robotics.

In fact, they noted on the GRIT website that 47 percent of employed workers in the United States are women, but only 28 percent of women work professionally in the field of STEM.

Therefore, Lam explained, GRIT was established “with the goal of giving young girls the opportunity to find a passion in some area of STEM.”

“As fellow girls who have a passion for STEM, we are dedicated to providing an educational opportunity for young girls,” said Mann, who hopes these upcoming workshops will draw more females into male-dominated STEM activities.

Lam and Mann both have a great deal of expertise in STEM and have won many competitions in the last two years, including the following:

  • 2019 World Robotics Olympiad (WRO) United States National Championships — Second place Robot Senior Category
  • 2018/2019 FLL World Festival — Third Place Inspiration Award
  • 2018/2019 FLL NJ State Championships — First Place Champions Award
  • 2018/2019 FLL Hillsborough Qualifier — Champions Award Second Place Robot Performance
  • 2018 WRO U.S. National Championships — First Place Design Award Senior Category

Lam has been involved with robotics for nine years and has experience in coding, CADing and building robots while Mann, in her fourth year of robotics, has experience coding in Java, Python, C++, HTML, CSS and Javascript.

There is still time to participate in one of the duo’s inaugural workshops, which will be held virtually on Aug. 17, 24 and 25. These workshops will focus on robotics, building, coding, cybersecurity, circuitry and chemistry. 

CLICK HERE to register for one of the upcoming workshops by Monday, Aug. 10.

Lam and Mann are hoping to conduct workshops in person by the end of 2020 so that their students will be able to benefit from hands-on experience.

CLICK HERE for information about Exit 5A Girls Robotics Team.

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