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Girls Go Tech with Farmington Schools Lady Hackbots

The unified team recently showed off their skills in an all-girls robotics competition.

The Lady Hackbots are a subset of the Farmington Public Schools Hackbots robotics team. Photo credit: Joni Hubred-Golden
The Lady Hackbots are a subset of the Farmington Public Schools Hackbots robotics team. Photo credit: Joni Hubred-Golden
A big push to get more girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) appears to be working pretty well for the Farmington Public Schools Hackbots robotics team. 

Since last year, the percentage of girls involved has soared from 7 percent to one third of the team. The Lady Hackbots have their own t-shirts and have competed in one all-girls robotics event, held Nov. 16 at Bloomfield Hills High School. 

Team members said their first outing was a little rough, but they ended up in an alliance with a world championship team. And they made friends with students from other competing schools. 

"The goal is to get more girls interested, so our team is more diverse," said advisor Heidi Skodack, a technology teacher at Farmington High School. The experience, she said, helps them feel more confident about trying out for positions on the drive team or in the pit. 

North Farmington High sophomore Katie Montgomery said she was intrigued when teacher Mark Skodack, also a Hackbots advisor, came to school with a purple beard.

"There was a competition the previous weekend, and he couldn't wash out the color," Montgomery said. 

Twins Rachel and Jillian Tuba, juniors at Farmington High, had a family push to get involved; their father is a Hackbots mentor. The girls said they learned a lot from watching and helping him make home repairs. 

"Recently, he's been trying to get us into doing computer things, because the world is advancing," Rachel said. "This is a way to get us ahead." 

Madi Abel, a junior at Farmington High, got into robotics because she wants to be a chemical engineer–and her brother, a geological engineer, convinced her to give it a try, because he regretted not being involved when he was in high school. 

"He told me there are a lot of different ways of being an engineer," she said. "I really like solving technical issues." 

Lady Hackbots come from all three traditional high schools: Farmington, Harrison and North Farmington. They say school rivalry flies out the window when they're working together. 

"Everybody sheds their school colors," Rachel said. 

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