Girls just want to build robots
Women in STEM For 11-year-old Laura Bradley-Grattan from Kinsale, computer programming and building robots has been part of her life for years. Here, Laura tells us her story.
I like building things from odd bits and pieces and coding them to make them do what I want. That’s really what I enjoy most of all, that you can make anything and make it do anything. I love the hardware part of it, the building and designing, most of all, and then afterwards I like to do the coding in Python.
Getting into robotics
My friend Amy McWey and I both did CoderDojo, so last year we thought we would do a project together. We decided to make a hovercraft which we made from wood, spare electronic parts and motors and controlled it with a Raspberry Pi with software written in Python. We hacked a Wii remote, used a Bluetooth dongle and connected the remote to the Raspberry Python to control the hovercraft. We made a lot of noise in the CoderDojo competition because no one else was doing the same thing we were doing. We were runners-up in the hardware category with 92 other teams in the category, which was so exciting and something we didn’t expect.
This year, I’m working with my friend Aoife Donohoe on a Drawing SCARA (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm). It’s a drawing robot controlled by a Raspberry Pi with software written in Python. We wrote code to make it draw shapes with its arm, like squares and circles, or it can draw more complex pictures. We can also control the arm's movement with a Wii Remote with Bluetooth.
Laura and Amy McWey being judged at Coolest Projects 2016
I go to Summercove National School in Kinsale, and friends from my class are in CoderDojo, which is great, because I get to learn coding and do projects with my friends. That’s always much more fun than doing it by myself. I definitely plan to continue in CoderDojo when I start secondary school in Bandon Grammar in September
I’d like to do something in programming in the future with robots or computers because I have those skills now. I started off early and I got a lot of encouragement from my parents Nick & Therese. This was really important. Being in CoderDojo means I get to work with other girls like me, which means there are more girls in STEM and that’s always a good thing.