Scientific American was back at the FIRST New York City regional robotics competition this year. We've covered the event more generally in the past but this year decided to focus on one team in particular—not an easy decision to make when you consider there were dozens of talented, hard-working squads competing for a chance to go to the championship round next month in St. Louis.

One of our goals was to show that there are high-schoolers in this country interested in science, technology, engineering and math (aka STEM)—subjects crucial to keeping the U.S. competitive with the rest of the world. We wanted to tell the story of a successful all-girls team that could address—and potentially put to rest—the notion that a typical teenage girl's interest in technology doesn't extend beyond Tweeting and texting.

To prove our point, we had to look no further than the Fe Maidens from The Bronx High School of Science, competing in their fifth FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). The Maidens were finalists at the 2010 New York City regional competition, earning a trip to the championship round in Atlanta. They also won last year's Engineering Inspiration Award in New York City.

Speaking with the Maidens about their design decisions and strategy was impressive enough, but it was nothing compared with observing them in action a few weeks ago at the 2011 NYC FRC regional competition. In the pit area at Manhattan's Jacob Javitz Convention Center, they (along with mentors Hilary Mallar and Jon Cook) worked relentlessly to get their bot ready to roll and then make adjustments as the competition progressed into the later rounds. You can read more about the competition in an article we published earlier this week.

The video below provides a glimpse of the Maidens at work—both in their Bronx Science robot workshop prior to the regionals and on the floor of the Javitz Center. We would be remiss if we didn't also point out Bronx Science's other FRC team, the SciBorgs. This group of young men worked diligently alongside the Maidens in the school's workshop to prepare their own FRC bot for competition. The end result may not have been what either team had hoped for, but the experience they gained leading up to and during the competition will prove invaluable in any field these talented students choose to pursue in the future.


Image courtesy of Larry Greenemeier/Scientific American