Girls in Science: BVG Student on a Mission to Inspire 

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Samantha Sedran

Her interest was captured early.

“It all started with a one-week summer camp I attended when I was 10 years old,” says Samantha Sedran, Grade 12 student at Bayview Glen School (BVG). “From the very first design session, I knew I wanted to pursue competitive robotics.” 

And she has been on a mission ever since, building robots, competing, and sharing her love of the subject matter. And, along the way, also making some key observations. 

“My competition experiences highlighted the gender gap that exists in robotics,” says Sedran. a BVG student since Grade 9. “The male/female ratio was 80/20 and the environment was not always welcoming to girls, so I made it my personal mission to create gender parity in robotics. 
I have actively worked to motivate young girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Enginering and Math).” 

Those efforts have included, “fundraising to send girls to robotics camp, volunteering at robotics programs and engaging with industry leaders in the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation and the FIRST Canada Youth Council,” she says. 

And it does not stop there. 

Starting at the age of 11, Sedran began teaching robotics to elementary school students in her spare time. 

In the fall of 2022, her teaching pursuits spawned GirlsCrew Club, an all-female robotics club. 

It has been running at George Webster Elementary School in North York since September.  

“I researched schools designated as ‘Model Schools’ by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB),” Sedran continues. “These schools represent the neediest inner-city schools in which children often have very limited, if any, access to enrichment programs.” 

In order to have the Club approved to run in a school setting, Sedran, who is part of the BVG FRC Robotics Club, created a proposal including the vision, structure and learning objectives and sent it out to multiple schools.  

She was asked for additional feedback and responded by developing 30 weekly lesson plans — eventually gaining approval.

When the idea of GirlsCrew Club was introduced to female students between 10 and 12 years of age at George Webster, more applications were received than spaces available. A lottery then decided on the final dozen spots. 

During each 60-minute weekly session, participants are provided with instruction on building and programming, an experiential learning component, a key learnings review, and profiles of female STEM trailblazers. 

“It is giving 12 girls the opportunity to participate in an engaging and educational program that many of them would not have the chance to participate in otherwise due to a variety of barriers including associated fees and transportation to a program of this nature,” says Suzie Heintzman, Teacher at George Webster Elementary. “GirlsCrew Club has been an amazing addition to our school community!” 

Adds Sedran, “none of the girls had any robotics experience at the beginning of the year and they are always so surprised by what they can do.”  

Nicole Vitello, a teacher at George Webster Elementary, is among three school staff who support the Club. 

“All the feedback has been very positive especially as the girls are gaining more experience with building and testing out their robots,” says Vitello. 

And four months in, the Club is making a tangible impact. 

“I like that I am learning about how girls are getting knowledge in areas that were normally just for boys,” says Sabrina, a 10-year-old participant. 

“We get to build robots which is so much fun and the snacks are beyond yummy,” adds Marjuka, age 11. 

Providing snacks and necessary equipment were elements that Sedran also took great pains to realize. 

“I didn’t have enough money to buy kits for all of the teams so I contacted my former coach who teaches at Bot Camp and asked if I could borrow some of their equipment,” says Sedran. “They were more than happy to help, so each week I go to Bot Camp and borrow any supplies I need and return them the next day.” 

To ensure a strong start for the Club, Sedran used monies she earned from a Bayview Glen School scholarship to “buy equipment, develop Welcome Packages (t-shirts, notebooks, and branded pens) and have funds available for snacks.”  

So far, it appears, her mission is being accomplished. 

“At the last class I asked each of them what careers they would like to pursue, and I heard so many of them say, — engineer, scientist, mathematician, robot builders,” says Sedran. 

Her efforts at a young age, are laying the groundwork for future potential women in STEM, and much more, according to staff advisor, Vitello.  

“Samantha is a dedicated, responsible and very knowledgeable instructor who is teaching the students not just about Robotics, but what is possible when you work hard and find something you are passionate about.” 

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