- I’ve always had a fixation on technology and its potential as a venue for both creativity and practicality. However, after enrolling in lackluster computer elective after lackluster computer elective in school, I’ve decided that maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong place.I approached TechGirlz because it’s a program dedicated to making sure young girls like the middle school version of me can explore their passion for technology. By getting involved at TechGirlz, I can participate in the education of girls in a situation all too familiar while immersing myself in an environment straight out of my daydreams.
What first got you passionate about tech?In elementary school, my teacher would routinely assign my class these cut-and-paste exercises. The instructions were to cut out the little paper eggs with the numbers on them and paste them onto the little paper birds’ nests with the corresponding math problems. When I turned in the assignment, the teacher would always find that I’d used the extra eggs to create a “game” on the back of my paper, complete with crayon – drawn conveyor belts, buttons, and score counts. As soon as I had the tools available to me, I traded my crayons for code, but I’ve been a TechGirl at heart since the little birds’ nests.What is most interesting about technology to you?I am most interested in technology as a tool for education and storytelling. I hope to work in the video game industry, crafting experiences that can evoke emotions and imbue lessons that cannot be evoked or imbued by any other medium. Video games as tools can be harnessed for a myriad of positive effects on our society, be it through education, communal problem solving, or even just a well-told story. And that is wonderfully exciting to me.What would you tell another young girl who is interested in technology?“You are the future.” Cheesy, perhaps, but true. Girls like that hold in their hands not only the future of a society growing ever more connected to and by its technology, but also the future of their own female peers, each of whom has the potential to an be ambitious, innovative woman.
I first heard of TechGirlz when I met Tracey Welson-Rossman at the Tech Inclusion Summit at the White House this past January. I am currently the Founder and CEO of PlayWerks, an interactive media company that creates high quality interactive experiences that inspire,empower and engage children and adults. Previously, I worked in consumer research at MGA Entertainment and at Mattel, Inc. and also as a nursery and pre-kindergarten teacher.
I have always been passionate about children and education and now I am about to embark on
the next phase of my life-long mission to create positive changes in the world, especially for
As a young child, I was inspired by the media, particularly Tom Hanks in the movie BIG, to create a dream job for myself, which I did when I was working on Barbie and Bratz Dolls at Mattel and MGA. Now I am determined to create media platforms that include STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields that will empower, engage, educate and inspire young girls to create amazing jobs for themselves.
I love how TechGirlz is making technology cool for middle-school age girls. I think they will continue to help close the gender gap in STEM – keep up the good work!
You can read more about Shirin’s work here.
I decided to become a TechGirl after I saw a tweet from the organization saying they were looking for a volunteer web developer. I had been teaching myself various tech platforms as well as some programming languages for the past few years, so I signed up. I thought it would be a good way to hone in on my own personal skills while also supporting an organization that does the same for other females.
I’m a very process-oriented person and technology is all about processes, data and logical sequence. I think I’ve always been drawn to the tech world. Technology makes sense to me, so I like to immerse myself in it. What I’ve learned through being a part of TechGirlz is that there is a whole world of girls out there who want to know tech… girls just like the younger me.
My primary duty with TechGirlz is updating and maintaining the design and development of the website. I do this to ensure TechGirlz is able to expand its reach to as many people as possible, better inform them about the organization’s services and create easy access for the public to important information. I hope that my involvement with TechGirlz will help me achieve my personal goal, which is to meet and change the lives of talented girls who will grow into brilliant women.
This blog post was written by Ariel Gabay, a ninth-grader at Kohelet Yeshiva High School.
I first heard that the Kohelet Foundation was going to be rolling out a SmartSchool Program last year. The idea was that every school in the Jewish Day School Collaborative was going to be receiving an iPad and that teachers were going to be incorporating the iPad into our curriculum. I also heard that Kohelet Yeshiva High School was going to be one of the first schools to participate in the program, and I honestly thought it was just a rumor. But sure enough, at orientation this fall, there was a whole iPad presentation, and I thought – wow, this is going to be the coolest thing ever! During the presentation they showed us how interactive and useful the iPad is. Although I was so excited and the idea seemed amazing, I knew it was still going to be a difficult transition for us to get used to using the iPads on a daily basis in the classroom.
When we first received our own iPad, it was great. I felt empowered – that the future of my education was literally at my fingertips. They had us freshmen, along with the sophomores, in one classroom to set up the systems. To set up our iPads, we had to go through complex steps to activate it. For example, we had to set up our iTunes accounts, emails and passwords and click on several links to get each process started. It was a little overwhelming and complicated, but we finally got through it.
The first day we used the iPads was so confusing, and I started having mixed emotions about using it. Classes were challenging because we didn’t know when we should be using the iPad or taking notes on paper. Plus, not every application was set up, and we kept hitting roadblocks.
But after the first week or so of using the iPad and getting all the proper applications up and running on my tablet, everything started falling into place. The teachers also started getting the hang of using the iPad, so it made opening up worksheets in Notability, which is our note-taking application, much easier and less stressful. We started using our iPads to take online quizzes for biology, we started looking things up on the Internet, typing up essays, writing down our homework in our planners, using textbooks, and just taking notes. I was starting to get the hang of it! I also knew once the major transition was over, that the iPad would be a great tool for learning. But I won’t lie, that first week was hectic.
Now that I have been using the iPad for a while, I realize how amazing and privileged we are to have them. In class when a teacher asks a question and no one knows the answer, or they want us to look up a specific fact, we can just Google it. It’s truly incredible what the iPad is capable of doing. When I’m taking notes in classes using Notability, I can type up my notes and then also draw diagrams on the side.
When we open up worksheets in Notability we can highlight things right then and there and write little comments or translations on the worksheets.
Also, the history textbook that I have is incredible. It has videos you can click on and commentaries you can listen to, simply with the tap of a finger. The iPad is highly interactive, and I think that it makes me think more during class. It makes learning more interesting and fun for me, and the fact that we’re even using an iPad during class, is just really cool. In the bigger picture of all this, I also believe that we are going green and looking towards sustainability and really helping out our planet. There are barely even any handouts anymore – everything is right there on the iPad.
I think that in the years to come the iPad will continue to prove itself. The school has already gone through the transition, so everyone will be experts at using the iPad (aside from each incoming freshman class), and everything will run smoothly. Also, I anticipate the Kohelet Foundation working with our tech company and Apple to bring us the latest and greatest technology out there to incorporate into the iPad and further our education. I truly believe that we will be able to learn so much more with the iPads, and it will be interesting to see the transformation of using the iPad now as a 9th grader and what will be enhanced on the iPad by the time I’m a senior. I definitely look forward to the years ahead.
“I became a Tech Girl because I wanted to figure out how we can use technology to better conceive and implement public policy. Along the way, I learned that I like to take an idea and figure out how to get it launched. But more importantly, I learned that I love to figure out what worked and what didn’t, and improve it. And then do it all over again. Technology makes that so much easier – with more data and direct communication than I know what to do with sometimes!”