According to research conducted by CompTIA, the leading trade association for the global information technology industry (IT), teenagers show a growing interest in working with technology as a career. And TechGirlz, a nonprofit organization operated by Creating IT Futures, CompTIA’s tech workforce charity, intends to foster that interest.
TechGirlz started with a singular vision: To change how middle-school girls think about technology by engaging them in TechShopz In A Box™, free, fun, hands-on workshops on a wide range of topics. Read on to learn more about some recent TechShopz that were led by former workshop participants.
3D Jewelry Design with Tinkercad and 3D Manufacturing TechShop
TechGirlz Teen Advisory Board (TAB) member Lilia Becker had lots of prior experience with technology before leading this workshop. She’s a coder, she has made her own 3D designs and she founded the nonprofit CodeWithLilia.org, which aims to get more girls into the computer science industry.
After serving as an assistant workshop leader for other TechShopz, she stepped in to lead a workshop for the first time, teaching 3D Jewelry Design with Tinkercad and 3D Manufacturing to a group of enthusiastic middle-school girls in Philadelphia. This TechShop teaches girls how to design a bangle in AutoCAD’s Tinkercad 3D modeling software, giving them an understanding of how designers use 3D to design and manufacture jewelry.
Becker noted that during the five or so years since she first started tinkering with Tinkercad, software and 3D printing have come a long way. 3D printers now are more common and easy to access — in fact, the library where she led the workshop had one available for girls to use.
According to Becker, the topic of designing jewelry was particularly appropriate for a group of middle-school girls. Collaboration was an important part of the workshop, and Becker saw that girls were excited to learn new things.
Designing Mobile Apps TechShop
TAB member Lindsey Davis took part in the Designing Mobile Apps workshop when she was a middle schooler and was excited to serve as a TA for the TechShop she helped lead in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, earlier this year.
The Designing Mobile Apps TechShop teaches girls how to select an application idea, develop a prototype and present their final product to the class. Along the way, girls learn how to brainstorm, communicate a concept, create low-fidelity wireframes, user flows and prototypes, and work within a team.
Davis enjoyed watching girls work together to create an idea for the app and to solve problems that popped up along the way. She also enjoyed introducing technology to a younger group of girls and helping them discover a love for STEM.
“More girls should feel able to step forward and share their interest, ideas and discoveries about tech with the rest of the world,” Davis said.
Solving Genetic Mysteries with Online Tools and Family Histories TechShop
When doctors diagnose patients, sometimes it’s like solving a mystery. They ask about symptoms, call on their experience and knowledge, and often turn to databases and other technological advances to streamline the process.
A group of Philadelphia middle schoolers gained first-hand experience doing something similar during a Solving Genetic Mysteries with Online Tools and Family Histories TechShop earlier this year.
The girls were given the history and genetic symptoms of a young patient, and they used online databases to come up with their own diagnoses. The TechShop teaches students about free online tools – such as Progeny (to create a family tree), OMIM (to search medical symptoms that point to genetic causes) and the Human Genome Browser (to find genetic changes that cause medical symptoms).
Halina Saydam, a Philadelphia teenager and one of the TAs helping lead the workshop, noticed that girls seemed eager to dive deep and figure out the mystery at hand. “Each girl had a different thought as to what the real answer was,” she said. “It was cool to see how they worked with one another to connect the dots and figure out the case.”
Saydam noticed that different approaches led to several different solutions, and she used the opportunity to encourage girls to continue their interest in technology.
TechShopz are free to download, and anyone, anywhere can lead one. Included in the download are the workshop curricula, instructions on how to run a TechShop, and marketing support from the TechGirlz team.
To see the full list of TechShopz in a Box™ workshops available, or to download one, click here.
Related Posts from Creating IT Futures:
- TechShopz In A Box™: Free, fun and engaging hands-on tech workshops for teenage girls from TechGirlz (blog post)
- TechGirlz Inspires Middle School Girls to Create with Technology (blog post)
- How to Nurture the Next Generation of Women Technologists – before They Reach High School (podcast)
TechShop Recaps from the TechGirlz blog: