Isabelle Yue-See Li ’20, Wellesley Robogals President

Isabelle Yue-See Li ’20

I'm the incoming president of Robogals and I've been volunteering for this organization for one year. Our goal is to get young girls interested in engineering and related STEM fields. We work mostly with 4th-6th graders in nearby communities and we run workshops which teaches some computational concepts using an online blocks-based programming environment, Scratch, and other technology toys. With Scratch, the girls are essentially getting their first friendly introduction to coding. Our volunteers act more as a mentor and a cheerleader for the girls — letting them mostly explore this new environment on their own. A meaningful part of volunteering is seeing how quickly our participants can pick up on these concepts. They are always so energetic and have creative ideas. I was working with one girl who was very excited to show me her program. It was an interactive one where you talked to a penguin and the penguin asked a couple of questions. Depending on how you answer, something would change (for example, the penguin would fly up into space). She seemed very happy with the results; she was so enthusiastic that she showed the program to me, other participants, and some volunteers multiple times. I was impressed that she created this entire program quickly without having to ask for much guidance — a feeling that is common among volunteers. The programs that the participants make are fun, but they also use some of the key concepts that a student would learn in an introduction to Computer Science course. For girls that would not have the opportunity to explore these concepts until high school or even college, our workshops can help them identify an interest in technology and engineering earlier rather than later. Overall, seeing young girls excited about STEM has been really meaningful and encourages me to continue improving Robogals and increasing our reach to impact more girls.