Fort Worth

All-Girls Robotics Team From Fort Worth Competes for State Title

The Dork Side is in Belton competing against 71 teams

NBC Universal, Inc.

It's a big weekend for a group of high school girls in Fort Worth who call themselves The Dork Side.

"That name came up six years ago when we were starting our team and trying to decide if we wanted a Stars Wars theme or a Harry Potter theme. We went with Star Wars, and we're also really smart, so we're the dorks," said team captain Fawn Giesecke.

Giesecke is 17 and a senior at the Young Women's Leadership Academy in the Fort Worth ISD. She joined the robotics team in middle school and now leads the ninth through 12th graders hoping to win a state title this weekend in Belton.

The Dork Side is the only team from an all-girls school among the 72 competing for a UIL state championship. A regional win back in February put them in position to win state and the FIRST robotics championship for a chance at a world title next month. They left Fort Worth on Thursday for three days of competition.

"We're ready to rock. We're ready to move. I have so much confidence in them. They are true academicians and they are true dorks. So, I expect them to excel," said Marsha Bean, the middle school engineering teacher who helps coach the team.

The team spent months building and programming an industrial-sized robot to play a field game against competitors. They learned and developed skills in software, hardware and power tools. Teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills were honed, too.

And for Giesecke, there were lessons in project management and leadership.

"That's my goal as team captain is to make sure they're learning and growing throughout this experience," she said.

"Just to brag on how much work they've done this year. At the beginning of the season, we were learning how to send professional emails and now we're having interviews with NBC 5 and presenting to Lockheed Martin."

Every member of the team has her sights set on a career in science, technology, engineering or math or STEM.

For Dominque Sennet, the goal is UX designer or front-end developer.

"You focus on how humans use technology and how you can improve that in the future and improve it for everyone so that it's an easy transition as you develop new technology," she said.

"I'm actually looking more to entertainment engineer where I build roller coasters or aerospace engineering," said Gabriela Mieres.

For the two teachers who coach the Dork Side, the pride they have in their students is evident.

"The beauty in it is seeing the girls elevate. They take all the thinking, the thought process, all they learned in class and put it to work and it elevates them so much; just to see them learn and grow," Bean said.

"This is my first school where I've actually been a robotics teacher, and I fell in love with it. Now, they're gonna have to get me out of this school kicking and screaming," smiled engineering and robotics teacher Sergio Flores. He coached YWLA's first robotics team and continues to spend time beyond the school hours helping and coaching his students.

Flores and Bean are with the Dork Side in Belton along with student families to cheer on the ten girls as they put all their hard work and skills to the biggest test of the year, so far.

Contact Us