Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy

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November 02, 2021

Middle School Girls Use RoboCamp with Virtual SPIKE Prime for CMU SWE Event

By Catherine Porter

On October 14th, 2021, Carnegie Mellon University’s Society of Women Engineers hosted Middle School Day, an annual outreach event.  This virtual event invited middle school girls from the Pittsburgh area to participate in workshops to experience an engaging day of learning about engineering.  Volunteers from CMU’s faculty, staff and students hosted workshops that covered a variety of STEM subjects such as computer science, biomedical engineering, environmental engineering, and more. 

Ananya Rao, a CMU CS graduate student, and Catherine Porter, a curriculum developer with the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy teamed up to host an engaging Computer Science workshop for the middle school girls.  The workshop was focused on how computer science is used in robotics. Ananya discussed how her studies relate to everyday tasks and gave a short presentation about medical robotics, search and rescue robotics, and lunar robotics. While all of these robots help people in various ways, it takes a programmer to be able to tell the robots what to do. 


The workshop was supported by RoboCamp with Virtual SPIKE Prime, a curriculum developed by the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy that teaches basic programming, robotics, and other STEM concepts at an introductory level.  The curriculum offers a virtual robot that can be programmed in a lunar environment. All the activities in it are themed after CMU’s Iris Rover, which brought the workshop into full circle and created a meaningful learning experience for the middle school girls. 


“It was truly worthwhile hosting this workshop with Ananya.  It helped girls become intrigued with computer science and they thoroughly enjoyed programming the virtual robot.  I am grateful that Carnegie Mellon’s Society of Women Engineers provides these kinds of opportunities to young girls so that we may inspire and motivate them to enjoy STEM,” said Catherine Porter.