O'Fallon Progress

Local girls fly drones as part of STEM Day Camp

Annalise Kuhlman of Shiloh is at the control of a drone during the Girls Scouts STEM Day Camp.
Annalise Kuhlman of Shiloh is at the control of a drone during the Girls Scouts STEM Day Camp.

Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois (GSSI) hosted a drone program for nearly 60 girls on July 20 at Camp Torqua in Edwardsville. The program was made possible by a $2,500 grant from Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery and was part of their week-long STEM Day Camp.

The program was facilitated by LocoRobo Innovations Inc., which builds affordable, kid-friendly robots and delivers education sessions related to coding and robotics. LocoRobo founder Dr. Pramod Abichandani and summer organizer Lisa Burgess showed girls how drones are constructed and programmed, taught the science of flight and aerodynamics and discussed ways drones are used in business, science and art. Girls were also treated to a sneak preview of a new LocoRobo product headed to market — the Gesturebotics Aura, a drone controlled by hand movements through a specially crafted glove. At the end of the classroom sessions, each girl was able to pilot a drone around camp.

“We’re incredibly grateful for Phillips 66 for helping us provide this really unique program,” said GSSI STEM program manager Emily Stanley. “Girl Scouts has a long history of engaging girls in science, technology, engineering and math dating back nearly to our founding more than 100 years ago. Now more than ever, providing girls with interesting, challenging and fun activities to keep developing their interest in these fields can help them build bright futures. It’s wonderful when community partners such as Phillips 66 can help us offer more of these opportunities.”

Other activities for the week included wiring circuits, constructing model spaceships, shooting foam rockets, making their own fidget spinners and learning about astronomy. Girls not only learned relevant and fun STEM skills, but they also discussed how they could continue to pursue STEM fields in their educational and professional futures.

“The Girl Scouts’ STEM Camp is a program that encourages girls to be creative, think outside-the-box, and pursue their dreams,” said Melissa Erker, Director of Government and Community Affairs for Phillips 66. “This is exactly the type of programming that Phillips 66 seeks to support. Our desire is to see more and more young women pursuing careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, and the Girl Scouts STEM Camp does a great job of helping these young girls explore that path. We are proud to support a program that develops the future of our industry.

In observing the girls at camp this week, it is clear that they enjoy grasping complex problems and can demonstrate their full understanding of these topics. It’s impressive to see what they have accomplished in a week.”