TechGirlz once again came to The Baldwin School with a new set of TechShopz for middle school-aged girls to further their education in technology and computer science fields. TechGirlz, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering girls to be future technology leaders, began hosting workshops at Baldwin in September 2014.
At Saturday’s TechShop, students built a custom keyboard out of fruit or play dough using the Makey Makey Inventor’s kit. They then paired their circuit board with a Scratch program to creatively connect the physical world to the digital world. The workshops include Baldwin students as well as girls from other schools and are held in Baldwin’s DREAM Lab®, its cornerstone of technology and creativity, integrating Design, Robotics, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.
“The goals of TechGirlz and Baldwin are aligned in that we both are interested in educating girls about Tech/Computer Science,” said Laura Blankenship, Computer Science Department Chair at the Baldwin School. “Since TechGirlz has a cadre of girls ready and eager and we have equipment and teachers, it is the perfect fit.”
Baldwin Upper School student Jasmine Syed has been involved as a teacher at the workshops since it first came to Baldwin. She said she loved being a part of the TechShopz and had a lot of fun creating a lesson plan, teaching the classes and seeing how much the girls enjoyed learning new things. Syed said she was impressed with how far the girls came in just one class.
“I went to another tech camp and there were only two girls there,” Syed said. But referring to the TechGirlz workshops she said, “It was great to be in an environment where women were really supportive of each other in technology.”
She believes TechGirlz is important because it exposes girls to different facets of technology and they can also see there are a lot of women in technology and computer science and that it can be cool and fun.
Jasmine was introduced to TechGirlz through her sister Sara who was in middle school at the time and attended a week-long TechGirlz summer camp. Sara loved the fact that the TechGirlz camp was geared to middle school girls and enjoyed meeting other girls who had a similar interest in technology.
Being involved with TechGirlz has been a great experience for both Jasmine and Sara. For Jasmine, having an opportunity to teach the younger girls has given her a chance to expand her knowledge, while learning new skills like taking charge of a class and putting together a lesson plan.
Attending Baldwin and participating in TechGirlz events have given Jasmine and Sara the confidence to pursue learning more about the STEM fields. They don’t think twice about the fact that, as women, they are a minority in this field — they’re just interested in it.
Karen Stellabotte, Program Director at TechGirlz said the partnership with Baldwin has been a great experience. She said Baldwin’s technology teachers and high school students in the school’s DREAM Lab® provides excellent female role models for the girls attending the TechShopz. “They were so excited that I could not get them out of the room when the program was done,” she said. “To see how excited and interested they are is worth everything we go through to make this happen for these kids.”
Baldwin will offer another TechShop on Robotics and Python on March 7, and will partner again with TechGirlz at a workshop for Middle School girls at the 4th Annual Philly Women in Tech Summit: Inspiring Women to Take a Chance on Saturday, April 18. The Summit is designed for all women in the tech industry or working in a technical field, at any level, as well as students. For more information and to register, click here.