by Aloma Jardine
Evelyn Wainewright ('14) uses passion for robotics to help children see science through new eyes
When the Oakville, ON native was in Grade 6, her
school started a Lego robotics team.
"A couple of my friends and I decided to join. We were the only
girls on the team, but we stuck it out," she says.
In robotics, Wainewright -- who is working toward an honours
math and physics degree -- found her passion.
"Looking at my education, the only reason I got through was
because of the robotics team," she says. "I had a 93 average. I wasn't
a poor student, but school wasn't a challenge. Until you gave me
something that challenged me, I was not going to apply myself
and that is what robotics was. Th ere is no upper limit. Whatever
you want to try to do, you go for it."
Wainewright is a builder in every sense of the word. When she
joined her high school robotics team in Grade 9, she took a critical
look at the whole system.
"I decided they were doing some cool stuff , but they had a lot more
potential, so in Grade 10 I was captain and increased our funding
and outreach," she says.
Th e next year she organized a leadership retreat for robotics teams
in her region and worked out a succession plan. Th e team
invited engineers to share their knowledge and applied for
grants. Her former team now raises about $55,000 a year
to fund competitions and outreach programs.
Th e work paid off . Her team qualifi ed for the world
robotics championships and she was one of 92
students in the world to win a FIRST (For Inspiration
and Recognition of Science and Technology) Dean's List award
-- the organization's most prestigious student honour.
She also holds a Loran Scholarship worth up to $75,000, which
she chose to use to attend Mount Allison.
Wainewright has never been content to take without giving back.
In Grade 9 she began mentoring elementary students and she con-
tinues to mentor her high school team via Skype. She started a
library Lego program in Oakville to teach children the basics of
robotics and a co-op program at her high school that off ers hands-
on science workshops to children.
Wainewright is now bringing robotics to children in Sackville.
Th is year she started two Lego robotics teams in the community,
the only such teams in New Brunswick.
"My goal for next year is to get enough teams -- I'd like to have
12 -- to have a regional competition here," she says.
Wainewright's long-term goal is to open a private school that will
focus on teaching science, technology, engineering, and math in a
hands-on, interactive way.
"It fi ts so perfectly with everything else I've done," she says. "I
feel like there are so many students who fall through the cracks
because we only look for a certain type of student. Th ere are so
many students who deserve a diff erent option."
ego changed Evelyn Wainewright's life.