TechGirlz is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that aims to bridge the gender gap in the STEM fields by introducing adolescent girls to technology. After four years of educating middle school girls through free TechShopz in a Box™, we’ve realized how great the need and desire for technology curricula is across the state and around the country.
That’s why we created the TechShopz in the Box™ program, a shared library of our TechShopz in a Box curricula for others to use. This Playbook will help with your operational needs in creating a tech event of your choice. Together, with content from our TechShopz in a Box™ Workshop Plans, you will have a step-by-step guide and tips to putting on your own TechGirlz workshop.
There are 5 basic steps in running a successful TechShopz in a Box:
- Pick a TechShopz in a Box Topic from our list
- Recruit an Instructor
- Secure a Location
- Recruit the Girls
- Host and/or facilitate the TechShopz in a Box
We have organized the Playbook according to your Event Timeline. The materials and instructions have been ‘timelined’ according to when you need to address them. There are 3 categories in the timeline: Pre-TechShopz in a Box, Day-of TechShopz in a Box, and Post-TechShopz in a Box. These timelines are guidelines and may vary depending on your specific situation.
TechShopz in a Box Launch Timeline
Typically you can plan and launch a TechShopz in a Box in two months or less. If you already have a tech instructor, attendee list, and a location, it will shorten the Pre-TechShopz in a Boxtimeline.
TechShopz in a Box Staffing
You can decide what type of roles you need. Below is a sample breakdown of roles and responsibilities that may apply. Keep in mind that the Coordinator and Instructor can be the same person.
TechShopz in a Box Instructor:
- Facilitates/Instructs Workshop Plan
- Serves as a Role Model to future Technology Leaders. (See Role Model Tip Sheet and reference materials at the end).
- Promotes interest & enrollment in TechShopz in a Box within personal network.
- Ensures TechGirlz TechShopz in a Box Attendee Survey and Instructor Workshop Plan Evaluation are completed Day Of-TechShopz in a Box
TechShopz in a Box Coordinator:
- Secures location/facility and materials needed
- Promotes interest & enrollment in TechShopz in a Box within personal network
- Coordinates enrollment/communication with girls & parents
- Must be on site and available Day-of TechShopz in a Box
- Ensures TechGirlz TechShopz in a Box Attendee Survey and Instructor Workshop Plan Evaluation are completed Day-of TechShopz in a Box and that they are returned to TechGirlz
- Participates in post-TechShopz in a Box debrief with TechGirlz
For branding your TechShopz in a Box, please refer to our usage and style guide.
Marketing Your TechShopz in a Box™
- Most registration tools have marketing options you can use to promote your event. We like using EventBrite.
- Here is the link for posting your event on our Community Run TechShopz in a Box webpage. Fill in the information requested, and our webmaster will post it within a week.
- We will also promote your event via social media if requested.
- Twitter: @TechGirlzorg
- Facebook: Facebook.com/TechGirlzorg
- Metro Kids will also post your events. They cover locations through out the Delaware Valley. They post free events for free!
Right click on any of the checklists or forms below and select “Save Link As” to save the document to your desktop.
The launch of a TechShopz in a Box is how you plan it to be. Although TechShopz in a Box can be done in many ways and should match your culture, budget, and time constraints, we have compiled tips from successful events to help you make your plans. Pick and choose what works for you or come up with your own great ideas (and then be sure to share them with us).
- Wear a particular t-shirt to the TechShopz in a Box.
- Publicize the upcoming even using emails, social media outlets, display event posters in public areas, and word of mouth.
- Make it fun and decorate the event area with a theme.
- Bring a camera to take pictures.
- Live Tweet during the event to let us know how much fun you are having (include us at @techgirlzorg). Use the hashtag that was established for your TechShopz in a Box.
- Print copies of lesson plans or hand-outs.
- Bring extension cords and power strips for the girls to plug in their laptops.
- If there is not a whiteboard or chalkboard at the location, bring a large notepad for the presenter to write on.
- Write the T.A.’s names, presenter’s name and any URLs on a chalkboard/whiteboard for the girls to reference.
- Include giveaways to the girls/parents – wait until the end of the session!
- Cross-promote another tech or girl event while you’ve got the audience.
- Plan some fun Minute-To-Win-It games during break.
- Provide refreshments: Purchase food/snacks (check for food allergies) if budget allows or in the email to parents, tell them to pack a snack.
- Some ideas depending on the time of day you planned the TechShopz in a Box:
- Lingering breakfast – bagel, fruit, sandwiches
- Lunch to go (boxed lunches)
- Afternoon snack w/Beverages or water
- Have girls pack a snack and bring a water bottle (no muss no fuss!)
Identify what space or room setup/style you require. Refer to Room Style Chart below for ideas. Next, decide how many participants should attend your TechShopz in a Box. We suggest a group of 15 participants. We have found that the attendees generally seem to prefer to work in teams, depending on the individual workshop plan. You can reference the Workshop Plan for suggestions.
Consider the technical requirements needed to run your TechShopz in a Box and make sure your location is able to meet your request(s):
- Do you require a computer hook-up to a projector and/or screen?
- Do you require a computer lab or other specific equipment?
- Do you require WiFi access?
- Are there extra extension cords and power strips for laptops?
Once you have a list of all your needs, you can then search for free local space. Here are some ideas to get you started. Just call them; you will be surprised how open they will be to help you.
- Libraries, Schools and Universities
- Municipal Offices and Recreation Centers
- Businesses with similar mission
- Associations and Conference Centers
There are many places to find subject matter experts in a specific field and the best way for these purposes is probably word of mouth. However, if you are not sure where to start looking for an instructor, try these resources.
Local Schools: Colleges and universities often have outreach programs for the local community and/or a technology organization or department. Teaching is a great way for students to reinforce what they are learning, get some practical experience, and give back to their community. The faculty might also be interested in teaching a class.
Local Technology Companies: Many technology companies want to contribute to their community, especially if it means training the next generation of technologists. Use resources such as chamber of commerce or better business bureau in addition to word of mouth references.
Girl Develop It is an international organization that teaches technology topics to adult women. They have experienced teachers in a variety of technical subjects and are particularly sensitive to the issues surrounding women in technology.
Girl Geek Dinners is an international group that hosts events for women in technology. They do not focus on teaching but have access to experienced technologists and often work with local schools.
Meetup is a website that many technology groups use to post events. Search for a technology group that is active in your area then ask if they have members who would be interested in teaching.
Conferences: Many professional technology organizations participate in or host local conferences about specific subjects. Find these events and contact the organizers or sponsors to recruit teachers.
Search Engine: A simple way to start is by entering the topic and your area in a search engine. Sift through the results to find professional organizations or local meetings about the topic and contact them to recruit a teacher.
Advice to Instructors
Teaching technology to kids can be a daunting task, especially if you have never done it before. Here is some advice to inspire both technologists who are new to teaching and teachers who are new to the technology they are teaching.
Advice for Technologists New to Teaching
If you can teach technology to an adult then you have many of the skills to teach a kid. The key is to give them the tools to experiment with. Abstract concepts and theories are difficult for kids to learn, understand, or remember and as a result come across as boring. Keep the workshop plan focused on fun activities with concrete objectives and room to achieve results beyond the objective so that the kids will have fun, understand the material, and hopefully even progress beyond the workshop plan. Most importantly, you should have fun too! If you are able to communicate your excitement about the topic children are more likely to want to learn about it and listen to you. It’s ok to be goofy and cheesy but it’s not ok to assume you know better than the kids. Be open to their ideas, positive about their contributions to the discussion, and you might be surprised at what you can learn from them too.
Advice for Teachers New to Technology
You can never know everything about a topic. This is the most important concept to remember when teaching technology. Most people don’t know as much as you think about the technology they use, even on a daily basis, which is why most websites have a help and search tool. Also remember that just because you are teaching a topic does not mean you are an expert in it. It just means that you know more about it than the other people in the room. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know”, “let’s try to find out” and “that’s a good question”.
If there is a person who challenges your knowledge or knows more than you do about a topic, use it as an opportunity to investigate the topic as a group – teaching is as much about learning for the teacher as it is for the students. Many great resources exist for people to learn about the TechShopz in a Box topics in the form of free online courses that you can take before teaching the subject. For quick syntax questions, use your favorite search engine. If you can help a few people learn a little bit more about a topic, just enough to get interested to learn more, then you have been successful.
You can list your event in a Google directory. Google has launched this directory as part of Made with Code—an initiative to inspire millions of girls to experience the power of code.
Perhaps you have a small group of girls and want to supplement it with more girls for the event you are holding. For the most part, middle school aged girls are the ones who know where OTHER middle school aged girls are! So use word of mouth to entice their peers (neighbors, school friends, sports buddies, dance/drama buddies) to come to the event. Undoubtedly girls “in the know” will use social media to spread the word by text, tweet, or Instagram (the tween trifecta!). Just be sure to include a reputable website or email address for more information/registration so they know all of the pertinent details.
Other resources you can reach out to:
- Local Schools – Most public and private schools have separate middle schools with 6th through 8th graders. You can call and ask for the Principal, one of the Vice Principals, or a specific technology instructor (just make sure you don’t get sent to the IT department!) Your challenge here will be to find your ‘champion’ to help you navigate your way to reaching those girls. Often, there are Staff Developers on hand that are always looking for new instruction to bring to students. Be aware that at public schools it may be difficult to advertise an event ‘for girls only’.
- Private independent schools – Your main contact may be the Head of Middle School. Parochial (catholic) schools go from grades K through 8 and usually don’t have a large budget for technology, so they may be particularly interested in sharing your event with their students. These schools run on a tight budget without a large ancillary staff, so your best bet is to contact the Principal/Head of School directly.
- Most school newsletters are now online, so you can ask for a quick line or two in the weekly online email/bulletin. Better yet, is there a staff member in charge of a Technology Club at school you could talk to?
- Local Library – Advertising here is free & easy.
- Local Township Recreational/Sports Programs – Contact your local representatives to find out how you can advertise your event.
- Local Church or Synagogue – Ask about advertising/posting opportunities as well as speaking with the leader of their Youth Group.
- Other “Girl” or Community Events – See if you can literally “tailgate” at another event (5K anyone?) to advertise your event.
- Call your local Girl Scouts chapter or just mention it to your neighborhood Girl Scout Leader.
Here are some tips to get started on your TechShopz in a Box. We hope you can serve as a positive role model in the tech field. We would like to highlight future opportunities for the girls in tech-related fields!
Share your life/personal story through a casual conversation. (Take questions/comments as they arise)
- How did you pursue your interests and face challenges?
- What is your academic background (reasons and emotions behind your academic decisions)?
- What has your career path been like (reasons and emotions behind your career decisions)?
- What piece of advice or words of encouragement helped you decide to pursue a career in STEM?
Share your story behind this particular TechShopz in a Box:
- Why did you choose this technology/skill for training girls?
- What decisions did you make while designing this TechShop?
- How can the girls continue to learn about the content after the TechShop? (this can be done throughout the event)
Explore career possibilities with girls (this can be done throughout the event):
- Introduce career pathways that have potential in the future.
- Trends in STEM, breakthroughs etc.
- Describe the experiences of your friends and colleagues who have contributed.
After your introduction, you may want to use an icebreaker activity to put the attendees at ease and get them interacting with one another. A good resource is the questions developed by Design Your Future: Math, Science, and Technology for Girls. They direct you to other sources too!
Seek inquiries from students and respond to their comments.
- Ask: “What is your favorite subject in school? Why?”
- Ask: “What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?”
- Ask: “Do you have a college you want to go to? What do you want to major in?”
- Ask: “Do you have any hobbies?
Q: What are the basic steps in running a TechShopz in a Box?
There are 5 basic steps in running a successful TechShopz in a Box:
- Pick a TechShopz in a Box Topic
- Recruit an Instructor
- Secure a Location
- Recruit the Girls
- Host and/or facilitate the TechShopz in a BoxGo back to step 1 and plan to do it again!
Q: How much time will it take to organize an Event?
Depending on what resources you have available to you, you can go from start to finish in one to two months. If you already have a tech instructor and a location it will shorten the Pre-TechShopz in a Box timeline.
Q: Who needs to be involved?
Gather a team of people (your friends, family, co-workers) to help you. It’s much more fun this way. You can decide together what roles/responsibilities you will have after reading through the Playbook. At the very least you need an instructor, a few assistants (we suggest 1 assistant per 4 or 5 girls) and a coordinator (or leader to make sure all is on track). Keep in mind that the Coordinator and Instructor can be the same person.
Q: How many participants should attend a TechShopz in a Box?
We suggest a group of no more than 15-20 girls.
Q: Should the participants work in teams or individually?
The girls usually prefer to work in teams, depending on the individual workshop plan. You can reference the workshop plan for suggestions.