This week’s #WCWinSTEM is Gabby Frierson aka RoboGabby.
As compiled by Chrystelle Vilfranc
Today’s #WCWinSTEM feature is a special one! Gabby Frierson aka RoboGabby is an 11 year old, 6th grade middle school student who is passionate about designing, building, and programming robots. She wants to inspire other young girls to take an interest in STEM fields. To do this, Gabby has started making tutorial videos to share her experience. Gabby is a firm believer that every young girl should give STEM a try by getting involved in STEM activities to help develop that interest.
All About RoboGabby
When she is not in school or working on homework, RoboGabby enjoys working with her hands. She also enjoys things that fly like jets and drones, and cooking and riding her bike. She’s your average young girl, who happens to love robotics! Gabby is not yet sure what she wants to be when she gets older, but she knows that she’d like to incorporate some of the things that she likes to do now, like: drawing, designing, building and programming robots or video game applications. Gabby is definitely interested in engineering, and you can find her hashtag: #GirlsCanBeEngineersToo on Twitter. Her passions and interests currently have her leaning towards a career in mechatronics engineering, which involves different types of engineering fields, however, she is still open-minded. Gabby enjoys making tutorial videos because she says, “I want to be an inspiration to other young girls to take interest in STEM fields and plus I’m a kinesthetic learner, so this helps me learn more by doing so.”
So what does she enjoy most about being RoboGabby?
“I like being RoboGabby, because I love being an inspiration to others, I am learning new things as I go, and I can’t wait to see what opportunities this brings me in the future.”
Because Gabby is a bit younger, we thought it would be helpful to find out from her parents how they were able to help cultivate her love for STEM. Gabby took a big interest in science early in her elementary years. Gabby’s father, Drew Frierson says at 3 years old, Gabby was always curious to know what he was doing. She would want to watch or help as he repaired things around the house, built/repaired a computer, played video games, etc. He never turned down her request to help or watch. Mr. Frierson says, “I believe this curiosity carried over into her education when she started school based on her consistent high grades in math and science.”
The Friersons believed that pushing Gabby to engage in STEM related activities helped foster her love for STEM. While in elementary school, they would do fun science experiments around the house such as generating electrical energy from potatoes, making a baking soda and vinegar volcano, and making roots from from beans sitting in the window. Her father began to teach her how to program when she was only 8 years old. She started out learning the Python programming language, although she did not fully understand why he encouraged her to learn it. Initially, she was not interested, despite different methods that Mr. Frierson would come up with to get her engaged. Her parents explained the importance of coding and how it might change her future. From 8 to 10 years old, Gabby learned to program in Python, some of Kava, and learned block programming with Scratch. At age 10, Gabby purchased her first robotic arm with her Christmas money. By this time her interest had grown; however, during the summer of 2016 Gabby became really passionate in STEM after attending several computer/technology camps and 3 robotics camps. Gabby truly enjoyed showcasing her knowledge to the other kids who shared her same interest.
The Friersons advise that raising young women of color who are interested in STEM (and even young minority females who many not yet know if they are interested in STEM) may sometimes require a bit of a push to get children to engage in STEM related activities outside of school to assist in driving the development of their STEM interest.
Role Models and Highlighting #WOCinSTEM
Gabby does believe that she is a role model; however, she looks to 3 main individuals who she refers to as her own role models. Dr. Ayanna Howard is her greatest inspiration. She is the founder and chief of technology at Zyrobots and a robotics professor at Georgia Tech. Her second role model, Lisette Titre-Montgomery, is a video game designer at Ubisoft. Finally, Gabby is inspired by Tracy Chou, who is a software engineer at Pinterest and a Women-in-Tech Advocate.
Gabby believes it is important to highlight women of color in STEM because they have not always been afforded access or the opportunities for education. Today, however, women of color are degree holders, company owners and creators of new technology. Gabby says:
“Highlighting #WOCinSTEM is important because it shows how far we’ve come, and that’s definitely worth celebrating.”
Here is some of RoboGabby’s advice to other young girls:
- Try to get into some of your school’s STEM activities to learn more
- Try finding other girls who have the same interest as you and start or join a group/club (This is very important!)
- You should also try finding a STEM mentor, for example, mine is my dad
- Always have fun with what you are doing, remember that practice makes perfect, and never give up
For more about Gabby and to learn more about robotics, programming, and coding, check out RoboGabby’s YouTube page.
Gabby you’re awesome and we thank you so much for all that you are doing to contribute to the world of #STEM! We see you girl!
Copyright © 2016 by Jedidah Isler
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