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Saint Gertrude High School All-Girls Robotics Team Builds Robot to Travel the World

St. Gertrude High School Robotics Team 2015-16

Saint Gertrude High School’s all-girl robotics team has built a robot that walks, talks, hands out business cards and collapses easily into a suitcase. “Ellie” is the name of SGHS’ fabulous female robot that will premiere at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 6-9 and then travel between Germany, France and the US. Watch this Science Matters Video to learn more about how these young women accepted a challenge to build a “Girlbot” and all they have learned along the way.


How did this opportunity come about?
While SGHS junior and Robotics Club President, Molly Powers, was interning with VirginiaFIRST this summer, she attended a conference on Creativity and Innovation at the McGuire Medical Center where she metShelly Zalis, CEO and Founder of the. The Girls’ Lounge began as a physical space - a haven for women to connect at male dominated trade shows - but has become more of an avenue for addressing women’s issues in business. Ms. Zalis has been looking all over the US for an all-girl robotics team to build her company mascot and she found the team she needed right here in Richmond. Ms. Powers and the SGHS robotics team ( accepted Zalis’ challenge to build the robot this summer and the work on “Ellie” began.


What was the challenge?
This girlbot needed to talk, hand out business cards, and travel easily in a checkable suitcase without weighing over 50 lbs. With the challenge in hand and under the guidance of their Physics teacher and Robotics Coach, Jeremy Watts, Team CLUTCH began working on the robot over the summer and affectionately named her Ellie- after a “sassy” redheaded 4 year old, the younger sister of a retired team member.

Ellie’s Fun Facts:

  • The mouth and the eyes are 3-D printed.
  •  The 3-D printed mouth glows in the dark.
  • Her arm can rotate a full 360 degrees.
  • Ellie has many light-up components, including bright green light-up eyes and a scrolling LED message board.
  • Her body rotates so she can fit into a checked luggage bag, together weighing less than 50 lbs.
  • Ellie speaks messages of confidence and encouragement to young women. Some of her phrases include “Confidence is Beautiful” and “Why Be Pretty When You Can Be Pretty Smart.”
  • Her goal is to encourage young women to pursue STEM careers.
Ellie the Robot

Ellie’s Debut in Las Vega, Nevada, January 6-9, 2016
Team members Molly Powers and Martha Anne Hottinger, Robotics Coach Jeremy Watts, and Dean of Academics Peggy Boon will travel with Ellie to the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The girls will debut Ellie at the show alongside, Shelly Zalis, Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States, and the Girl Scouts of America

After the Computer Electronic Show, Ellie will accompany Ms. Zalis and The Girls’ Lounge to conferences all around the world.

Learn more about Saint Gertrude High School.

Learn more about Virginia and how your daughter can get involved in Robotics in her school.

Learn more about the Girls’ Lounge and CEO Shelly Zalis.

Congratulations to all the members of Team CLUTCH!