Tafuna High School Army JROTC Excels in the 2023-2024 Girl Powered Challenge

Story by: MAJ (R) Siimoa Galoia
Photos by: MAJ (R) Siimoa Galoia

The dynamic team from Tafuna High School JROTC, Toa Robotics 2.0, 21111B, whose original members are: c/LTC Isalei Liaiga (Team Captain), c/MAJ Ladenia Lavata’i, c/CPT Filiga Tufa, c/CPT Sia Taipo, c/CPT Nicholle Sualevai has secured its place among the top five finalists in the esteemed 2023-2024 Girl Powered Challenge. This is a remarkable achievement for a team competing for the first time in this global online competition. Their journey to success, marked by exceptional robotics skills and inclusive team dynamics, is truly inspiring.

With 48 teams vying for recognition, Toa Robotics 2.0 distinguished itself by sharing its unique journey and the efforts it has made to embody the Girl Powered initiative within its team. Their compelling video narrative submission answered critical questions about diversity, inclusivity, and innovation in STEM, particularly in robotics.

The Girl Powered Challenge, a collaboration between Google and the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation, aims to redefine the face of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and make robotics more representative of our diverse world. This initiative encourages teams to demonstrate how they’ve integrated Girl Powered principles to foster a diverse and inclusive environment that empowers all members to step outside their comfort zones and innovate.

Toa Robotics 2.0’s entry not only showcased its exceptional skills but also highlighted its unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Its strategies for recruiting a diverse team that supports each member in exploring new avenues and embracing challenges are a source of pride for the entire Tafuna High School community and beyond.

The competition rewards are significant, with finalists receiving a $100 VEX Robotics gift certificate. The winning entry is awarded a $500 VEX Robotics gift certificate and a prestigious 1st place trophy. Moreover, winners who have competed with a physical robot during their competition season are granted automatic qualification to the 2024 VEX World Championships, underscoring the event’s high stakes and prestigious nature.

The REC Foundation and its panel of volunteer judges utilized a detailed rubric to assess submissions, focusing on criteria that reflect the core values of the Girl Powered initiative. Team 21111 B’s enthusiasm and commitment have not only earned them recognition and accolades but also a tangible reward—a $100 VEX Gift Certificate to further their pursuits in robotics. Each member also received a Finalist Certificate signed by the CEO of the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation.

As Toa Robotics 2.0 continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible in STEM and robotics, it stands as an example of innovation, diversity, and inclusion, inspiring future generations to explore and excel in these critical fields. Their journey in the 2023-2024 Girl Powered Challenge is a testament to their talent, perseverance, and the transformative power of a supportive and inclusive team environment.