Gulliver Prep senior Christina Cancio is the Silver Knight nominee for Gulliver in the category of English and Literature.
Cancio has two passions: engineering and theater.
“They are both all about creating,” she says. “In theater you are given a script, it’s what you do with the script that makes up the story. I started acting when I was 10. I’ve been in drama in middle school and high school. Most of my time dedicated to theater is at Area Stage. They put on student professional productions.”
Her equal love, engineering, led to the creation of a robotics camp for underprivileged girls ages 10-14.
“The first year I held it at StarBot,” she says. “It’s here in Miami. It’s a large warehouse. They do all the robotics events and competition.”
She held it there after meeting the CEO at a robotics competition and detailed her dream of starting the camp.
“With her help, I started finding sponsorships for the girls,” she says.
The second year it was at a different location because StarBot moved. Cancio spends the year planning the one-week camp, finding sponsors and raising money for the equipment needed.
“We’ve grown in size; the first year there were only 12 girls but the following year, there were 22,” she says. “I came up with the idea in the tenth grade, and then conducted it summer going in the eleventh grade and twelfth grade. I have to do it again this summer.”
Cancio wants to continue to expand the camps to draw in more girls. She finds the attendees through the public school system.
“For the most part, it’s going to other public schools and giving them applications,” she says. “They would inform the students, those students would contact me. Everyone who has wanted to come is welcome.”
That first summer, they were able to provide enough materials for all the girls.
“Each group built a robot that could play a game,” she says. “The game was soccer.”
Throughout the week the girls were given different challenges.
“We showed them that although something seems impossible, if they put their mind to it, they could do it,” Cancio says.
One of the tasks was to build a tower out of spaghetti sticks and marshmallows. They had to figure out how to build the tower, make it the tallest and it had to remain standing for 30 seconds.
“There have also been girls who called me who were almost failing school but after the camp they were getting straight A’s because of the empowerment it gave them,” she says. “After a certain amount of time, I plan to have to have different sessions (more advanced). The next summer, a whole new type of robots. Building the motor. Things like that.”
Cancio took her first engineering class in seventh grade. That year they build the first robot and the second year, they built more advanced robots.
“Our school finally formed a first robotics team,” she says. “It’s sponsored by NASA. It’s a huge competition.”
In her engineering class she’s been involved in the water system projects for third world countries.
For college, Cancio wants to go to a school where she can find balance. She’s close to her family so she applied to the University of Miami (both parents attended there). She also applied to Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, USC, and Columbia.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld