As a teenager, I often receive the label of unable: unable to make a difference; unable to make an impact; unable to make important decisions. Yet when I see two teenage girls start a non-profit organization dedicated to developing robotics programs in their community and beyond, I know the unable labels are wrong.
Stumbling across Robot Springboard was somewhat of an accident: I was actually looking into starting a non-profit organization of my own geared towards robotics community service. When I found their startlingly professional and passionate website, I knew my plans were about to change. Rather than founding a similar foundation of my own, I decided to reach out to junior fraternal twins Hannah and Rachael Tipperman and join forces with them.
Yet the Tipperman twins haven’t needed much help so far. Robot Springboard has been underway for over three years now, starting off in the summer between their ninth and tenth grade year. Most young people at this age are spending summer days lazing about in the sun by a pool but not Hannah and Rachael. In just thirty-six short months, these two ladies have managed to transform a simple idea into a fully functional non-profit organization. In 2013, the Tippermans launched a week-long robotics workshop for middle-school girls at Drexel University. After receiving an AspireIT grant from The National Center for Women and Information Technology, Hannah and Rachael contacted the computer science head at Drexel University. To their delight, the entire engineering department at Drexel was ecstatic at the idea. Within a few weeks, the camp was successfully launched.
Beyond single workshops, they have also managed to supply year-long programs. BrightStart robotics, an expansion of Robot Springboard, is geared towards younger children and their parents. Right now, they are hosting hour-and-a-half long seminars at their local library that include NXT robot kits. The kids design complete robots out of lego pieces before programming them to run through mazes using laptop computers. It is amazing what these young minds are learning and doing through this organization!
Success did not come right away for the Tipperman sisters, however. At first, they were turned down by their local library to even host a lobby display about simple robotics programs for kids. But the twins refused to be derailed. Through much sweat and toil, they are now performing monthly BrightStart robotics demonstrations at their library. Even more, the Tipperman sisters are going global this summer. After doing some research, the girls realized that Costa Rica is not involved in the FIRST Lego League—a middle-school organization geared towards having kids design Lego robots to compete in competitive games. Upon learning this, Hannah and Rachael knew they had to open a camp in Costa Rica to try and bring robotics and technology into young Costa Rican lives. They will be running not one but two camps in Costa Rica this summer.
When they’re not flying down to Costa Rica, Hannah and Rachael are reaching out nationally through their “Robotics in a Box” program. Interested customers can request a box, which includes two NXT Mindstorm robot kits, two HP laptops with included NXT software, and educational books from their NXT robot kit library.
After seeing their intentions to go national, I realized I could help Hannah and Rachael with their incredible mission. Currently, I am trying to bring Robot Springboard and BrightStart Robotics into the Colorado area. As a newcomer, I am facing the struggles that the Tipperman sisters first confronted. The NXT robot kits cost nearly three-hundred dollars apiece, not to mention the cost of laptops. But the thought of inspiring the youth through robotics programs and STEM programs keeps me going.
If you have any old laptops that have been outdated (maybe ones with a Windows XP operating system) or are of no longer of use to you, feel free to contact me at Kalin.Natalie@hotmail.com.
Also, check out the Tipperman’s inspiring website at http://www.robotspringboard.org/about-us-2/about-us.html
With these two girls, the unable label will surely disappear soon.