This fall, Saturday Academy expanded the Girls Engage Technology (GET) program to partner with afterschool all-girl STEM clubs in five Hillsboro middle schools. The goal of the GET program is to provide positive engineering experiences to young girls to give them confidence, so they take the next step in STEM learning. Partnering with the STEM clubs allows the GET program to expose girls to various aspects of STEM to pave the way for them to enroll in more STEM classes in high school. GET is providing four weeks of programming for the STEM clubs.
We presented one week of hands-on optical microscopy – looking at ordinary objects in a new way such as discovering colored threads in dollar bills, pixels that form printed color images, and trichomes on leaves. The functionality of the object can be better understood from the structure. Girls enthusiastically extended their investigations to other objects. The student’s favorite object was the sponge that looks “like a honeycomb”.
Three weeks of individual programming is provided using Scratch. Every girl completes a unique story and a game while learning or practicing basic programming skills. Teens from the Hillsboro high schools were selected and trained to help as paid near-peer mentors so that every middle school girl receives individualized help. Girls who do not see themselves as successful in school or those who require special needs services, can all succeed in this program.
“One of our girls who seems to constantly be off-task was completely focused the entire time and finished her project!” - GET parent.
The GET program is in its 5th year and has provided grant-funded, free-to-girls, engineering classes to roughly 1,500 girls. Classes are developed and taught by Barbara Miner, a retired Intel engineer, with a career in microscopy.