Tag Archives: girls

Technology for all

It’s not news that technology is making a big impact on education. Schools are spending lots of money on computers, robots, tablets, 3D printers, etc. Curriculum is being rewritten to embed technology skills within every subject at all grade levels. Students are being required to learn computer programming and being encouraged to become makers.

roboticsBut it’s not enough.

In our world 50% of the population are female. But only 8-20% of engineers are women. Less than half the schools in UK have girls taking A-level physics (and only one in five of the students taking that exam are girls). 19% of students taking AP computer science  are women.

The various technology industries, businesses and communities are predominately male. And schools are not doing enough to fix that. Schools and teachers can’t solve the problem (there’s plenty of indication that it’s societal and influenced by parents), but we need to constantly work at it.

teamworkIn our school, we just hosted a special all-girls technology event. It was a lot of fun and the girls loved it. But we only had 13 girls. It’s a start, but it needs to happen again and again. And we have to bring in the younger ones to combat societal and peer pressure.

I’m in. I owe it to my daughter. I owe it to all the girls.

Girls Can!

3doodling“This was great. We should do more of these!”

Over a dozen MS and HS girls came to the ICS Makerspace/Robotics Lab on Saturday for a special girls-only technology session. They designed things, collaborated in teams, taught themselves new skills, faced problems and figured out how to overcome them, made things and had a great time! By the end of the day, every girl went home with something that they had designed and made using high-tech tools. If they had arrived with any doubts that they were capable of high-tech success, by the end of the day they knew that Girls Can!

Why a girls-only event? It’s easy to say that such functions should be open to everybody, but the world of technology is generally dominated by males and ICS is no different. Plenty of boys eagerly join the robotics team, sign up for programming classes, and spend time making and building with technology. Girls are under-represented and we recognize that they might need a little more encouragement to explore and learn with technology …and a girls-only session is a safe spot for them to learn and experiment.

measuringWe had a good mix of girls join us on Saturday, ranging from grade 6 to grade 12. (We even had a couple of elementary school visitors!) We started out with a general orientation to the tools available to the girls, and an explanation of some of the types of projects that they could take on. Some of the girls tried their hands at lots of tools – building robots, printing and cutting designs. Others had specific ideas for a project they wanted to do and stuck with it.

A special guest, Gillian Brewin, joined us and talked about her work with women and technology as well as the work her daughter, Danielle (who graduated from ICS in 2005), is doing: running a start-up workshop to encourage women to explore and use technology in their work.

ada-lovelace-day_indie-event_whiteThis event was also an independent event organized under the umbrella of Ada Lovelace Day, a celebration of Lady Ada Lovelace, who in the 1800’s was the first computer programmer. We explained her story to the girls and invited them to read a brief biography of her, as well as a charming (mostly accurate) cartoon about her by Sydney Padua. (Read her book, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, which is in the library.)

It was a great day of learning and exploring!

Here are some photos from the day:

roboticsbuilding robots changingfilamentchanging filament on the 3D printer
3d_designinglearning to build 3D designs computerfiguring out the software preferences
3doodling2doodling with 3D pens cuttingworking with the vinyl cutter
luncha welcome break! teamworkteamwork!
talkan inspiring talk by Gillian lasercuttingwatching the lasercutter cut with a laser (duh!)

 

Cross-posted from my school blog.