Lockheed Martin Engineer Kyle Clark works with a group of girls at the 2019 Girls In Technology Summer Academy to fly a drone.

In the Colonial School District, thirty girls from fifth to eighth grade had the opportunity to program robots, fly drones and combine sensors and circuits tuition-free as part of the 2019 Girls In Technology Summer Academy, thanks to a grant from Lockheed Martin.

“I think it’s cool how we’re using robots and computers together,” said Eliza Meersman, who’ll be going into fifth grade at Colonial Elementary School in the fall. “I like all the different kinds of things we do.”

The program introduced girls in fourth and fifth grades to coding using simple graphical blocks to program robots similar to what they’ve seen in technology class. Middle schoolers were challenged to program drones using the coding language Python. The end of the week featured a robot design challenge for the younger girls and drone design challenge for the older ones.

“I like being able to explore different areas of technology and having a chance to meet new friends across the schools,” explained Eliana Galleo, who’ll be going into sixth grade at Colonial Middle School in the fall. “When we’re all doing robotics together, it really makes it feel like a family.”

Plymouth Whitemarsh High School Technology Teacher Mickey Engel, Business Teacher Nancy Labriccosa and Conshohocken Elementary Technology Teacher Nina Pratowski oversaw most of the sessions with help from students counselors. Lockheed Martin also sent volunteers to lead activities with the girls.

“We were really excited to talk to younger kids about engineering, because I know when I was a kid it would have been nice to hear from real engineers and talk to them about what they do on a daily basis,” said Kyle Clark, a software engineer from Lockheed Martin.

A team of Lockheed Martin volunteers judged the final competition and awarded four prizes in both grade levels.