Written by TechGirlz Teen Advisory Board member and volunteer Katia Barricklow
I’ve always been a proponent of STEAM – STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) with “A” for arts. Like me, many people believe the arts can be a key component to success in business and science because they teach creativity and critical thinking skills.
It’s also a great way to attract more young people, particularly girls, to STEM fields.
Through my involvement as a member of the TechGirlz Teen Advisory Board, I recently created and taught a STEAM TechShop for middle-school aged girls. My TechShop was titled “You Can Be a Photographer: Photography for Marketing” and it turned out to be a really popular topic.
Almost 20 girls from across the Philadelphia region attended. Survey results showed that the girls enjoyed the workshop, would use what they learned and would recommend it to their friends. The goal of my TechShop was to teach girls how pictures could be edited to evoke a certain emotion or message. The girls could take a picture of anything they want—their friends, their pets, etc. The girls learned editing techniques like adding a sunset into the background using their smartphone apps. I also showed the girls how to add a starry night sky into the background using a computer program called GIMP. The girls learned how to think critically about the photos used in business ads.
Working with the girls was so fun, and the crowd was really diverse. I learned a lot throughout this experience and found that teaching was more challenging than I expected.
The process for creating and revising the curriculum for my TechShop took several months. I started working on it in November of 2017, and the TechShop took place the first weekend of March. I had to identify which photo editing software and apps to use, then write out every step for each activity the girls would be doing. One of the hardest things was making sure the software was compatible on different phones. I took screenshots of all the steps that the girls would be doing in the workshop. I prepared speakers notes, made an interactive PowerPoint, put together an iCloud folder of photographs that the girls could use without copyright issues.
Finally, I did tons of research about the use of photos in marketing and advertisements so the girls could see how the business world uses photography. To my surprise, the girls got super engaged when I asked them to critique ads for fast food, hot sauce and pet adoptions.
Before my TechShop started, I felt kind of nervous, but mostly very excited. Overall, I believe the day went really well. It was a challenge for me to explain some of the concepts in a way that the girls could easily understand. Often, I had to think of different ways to explain what we were doing. In the end, I came out with a deeper comprehension of the software and material and will include this knowledge when I make final edits to the curriculum before my TechShop is uploaded to TechGirlz library.
I’m so thankful to all the Techgirlz staff, volunteers (shout out to Lindsey, who serves with me on the TechGirlz Teen Advisory Board), and everyone else involved in this TechShop for their help.
It was so cool to teach and inspire a classroom full of young girls. If there were boys in the class, I would have had to write the curriculum differently, and the classroom dynamic wouldn’t have been the same. Our learning environment was collaborative and empowering—the girls loved helping their peers, contributing to group discussions, and showing off their pictures. Once again, the Techgirlz Techshop was not only successful but also inspiring.
You Can Be a Photographer: Photography for Marketing is now available for download as a TechShop in a box on TechGirlz.org! Check out a similar post Katia wrote for the Bucks County Courier Times.