By volunteer writer Alison Perch
Creating popular apps like TikTok and Spotify wouldn’t be possible without empathy. Designers, researchers, and developers need to put themselves in the minds of users in order to create successful digital experiences.
In “Think Like a Digital Designer” — a virtual TechShop held with collaboration by Chicago Innovation’s Student Invention Convention on February 13, 2021 — girls learned the valuable skill of “design thinking,” which involves generating ideas, testing, and gathering feedback to improve user experiences.
Teen volunteer Mandy Le served as a teaching assistant (TA) for this workshop. Though she was somewhat unfamiliar with design thinking, she read through the lesson plan carefully and researched the topic on her own.
As a first-time TA, Mandy was slightly nervous, though she enjoyed interacting with students and witnessing their enthusiasm for the subject matter.
“I really enjoyed seeing their interest everytime a new slide would come up and their eagerness to ask questions was really riveting,” Mandy says.
Mandy also has a passion for learning new tech topics and has been interested in coding for many years. She plans to major in computer science and has taken AP classes in this subject area. She also works with coding companies to develop Java lesson plans for kids.
Through her time as a TA, Mandy realized that some girls don’t have many other opportunities — outside of TechGirlz — to learn about STEM-related topics. She wants to help girls become passionate technology users and discover career paths in STEM.
“The workshops are really valuable in teaching [girls] things they would not normally be able to learn,” she explains.
Mandy’s volunteer experience went smoothly, though she recommends that future instructors and TAs become familiar with Zoom — and with forming breakout rooms, especially — before leading a virtual TechShop. She also emphasizes that most students are brand new to learning the material, so volunteers should be patient and welcoming.
Overall, Mandy had a great time sharing her passion for tech with middle school girls.
“I am so thrilled that I was able to help TechGirlz in their amazing work to get more girls into STEM. I cannot wait to TA and teach more workshops in the future,” she says.
Teens can volunteer with TechGirlz, too! Get involved today.