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All-girl robotics team claims region crown
robotics
The Daisy Doyles team from Vickery Creek Middle School recently won a regional robotics competition. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

Girls will be girls. And the girls in the Daisy Doyles recently did what they do best — win.

The six female students from Vickery Creek Middle School, all friends in band, recently competed against more than 30 other teams in the county at the Regional VEX Robotics competition.

The Daisy Doyles won the event at South Forsyth Middle, qualifying them for both the state and national competitions.

“I’m proud of them,” said technology teacher Michael Cono. “Even if they didn’t win, they’re good kids, they do well in school, they’re very personable and they have very tremendous futures ahead of them.

“This was just the icing on the cake to win the tournament.”

To win the competition, the team — Gabrielle Herrick, Audrey Nguyen, Kimberly Ohrstrom, Zoe Robinson, Easha Tadvai and Christine Yang — designed, built and controlled a robot.

In addition to their intelligence, Cono said their creativity played a role in their success.

“I think because of their unusual design of their robot, he said. “They made a robot that not only will motivate forwards and backwards, but will actually flip upside down and continue on.”

The girls have worked under the direction of parent coach Robin Herrick, who said she first got involved in robotics two years ago with her younger daughter.

“I have some experience working with power tools,” she said. “So I said, ‘Sure, I’ll help.’”

She’s gone from helping to becoming a team coach. Despite her increased role, Herrick said the girls have done the bulk of the heavy lifting.

“It was very much self-driven by them ... I’m more of the delegator. They have a lot of really great ideas,” she said.

“They made the semifinals a couple of times before, so I knew they had a good robot … It’s a basic robot that was very consistent that could push really well. They had scored high in previous competitions, so we hoped for the best.”

The Daisy Doyles were not the only all-girls team in the competition. In recent years, more and more female students have been participating in robotics, engineering and technology, Cono said.

“When they see other kids driving robots with a remote control, it’s like a video game and they get excited about that,” he said. “Seeing more girls involved in it, then the other girls look and go, ‘Well shoot, I can do that.’ The numbers are growing.”

Herrick said robotics and technology are definitely attracting more girls.

“I think it’s just something that girls didn’t realize they had access to. If it’s not accessible to you, it’s not something you think about ... but they realize it’s an option for them now and a lot of them want to take it,” she said.

“But ‘Myth Busters’ and other shows, where you see people building things and creating things, and they’re smart and they’re curious and there’s enough of them now that are interested.”

And once a few girls show interest, Herrick said, it’s “one of those things that snowballs.”

Como said robotics is all about intelligence and reasoning, making it a level playing field for both genders.

The Daisy Doyles’ win was the first time the school had taken first place in a county tournament.

The team plans to go onto the state tournament, and is working on raising money for the national championship in Omaha, Neb.