Senior Maggie Rodriguez is Gulliver Prep’s Silver Knight nominee in the area of Science. For her Silver Knight project, she organized a STEM related community service project that works with children from local communities, including fifth, sixth, and seventh graders who attend Breakthrough Miami at Gulliver.
The project grew out of her interest in robotics. She’s in her third year of participating in the robotics program at Gulliver.
“We do FIRST Robotics,” she says. “Every March is the competition.”
The team will go to Orlando to compete. The program is still fairly new at Gulliver so the team has yet to reach the national competition, but they are working hard toward the goal.
“Our robotics team is young,” she says. “We’re still developing, we’re getting there.”
The program she developed for the Breakthrough Miami kids has drawn 30-40 Gulliver students to join the STEM Outreach Club. The three-part program teaches fifth graders the principles of engineering and design, sixth graders computer science and seventh graders medicine and nutrition.
“We go on Saturdays – one Saturday a month,” she says. “It’s like a STEM day for them. They really like it. It’s more of a hands-on experience.”
They do things like water bottle rockets, egg drops, and they teach coding by using Minecraft. Initially she worried that coding might be too abstract.
“That was our obstacle going in,” she says. “What I would think is an abstract aspect. We have a Minecraft module. They are responding well to it. They love it.”
They work to ensure the children understand the various modules.
“For nutrition we did the digestive system module,” she says. “We talked about health and not to eat certain kinds of fat. For the nervous system we talk about stress.”
Rodriguez developed a curriculum that could be passed down year after year in an effort to ensure the program continues after she goes away to college.
“We got a lot of juniors who joined this year,” she says. “I’m making sure the program is sustainable.”
They receive funding and materials through the Gulliver Robotics program, and other materials from the health program.
Health is an important area for her. She’s planning to major in Biomedical Engineering with the expectation of becoming a doctor. She’s still not sure if she will practice medicine or go into research.
This past summer, she did a research internship at the University of Miami School of Medicine in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She measured brain signals in hopes that those measurements could be used to diagnose migraines and if someone is migraine prone.
“We ended up finding a correlation,” she says. “The doctor is going to have undergrads develop it a little further.”
She worked with a student from Booker T. Washington High School on the project. They wrote a paper that was formally presented at the end of the summer.
“After that internship I went on to do research at the Veterans Hospital in the neuropathology lab for about six months. I stopped in January since I’m playing water polo now.”
She’s looking to go back over the summer depending on her college plans.
So far, she’s been offered a full scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and got into Georgia Tech and the University of Florida. She’s still waiting to hear from Duke and Princeton.
She’s treasurer of the senior class at Gulliver after being secretary for three years. She’s also a member of the Gulliver water polo team.
The team made it to the state finals last year and they hope to win this year.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld