Friday, January 30, 2015

Day 30 Kicking off our first Girls Make IT Event!

WOW... all I can say is WOW!

cross posted at

What an great day we had at the Generator MAKING together for the first Girls Make IT event sponsored by TechSavvy GirlsVermont Works for Women and the Generator.  Thank you to Jill DawsonLeah Joly, and Lucie deLaBruere for planning and leading inspiring workshop sessions.

Thank you to the Generator for the great space and the pizza.  Thank you to Vermont Works for Women for sponsoring the supplies.

Teams of Women and Girls from
  St. Albans City School      
  Christ the King School    
  Browns River School        
  Albert D Lawton School    
  Essex Middle School  
  Winooski Elementary School  and
  Williston Central School

left with the skills and supplies to teach a new set of girls from their school how to MAKE with eTextiles.  They also left with access to an online classroom where they can continue to network, share, learn together.  The online classroom will include weekly challenges that will introduce them to coding concepts and prepare them for an upcoming workshop where they will add can MAKE with CODE.

Stay tuned for Next Steps! We have even added a Follow by Email button to this blog so you won't miss any announcements about next steps and more opportunities.

And check out the link to the new Photo Gallery  tab on the Girls Make IT blog which will update every time one of our participants adds a picture to this blog!

Creating our NameTags Icebreaker gave our 7 teams a sneak preview of what was to come.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day 29 Can't Wait til Tomorrow

After 2 months of planning, I think we're ready. Can't wait until tomorrow where we anticipate 30 women and girls to have a wonderful day of MAKING at our first collaborative Girls Make IT event.  The agenda is jammed pack.  The biggest challenge will be fitting it all in.

Check out our Exciting and Fun Packed Agenda

8:00 -  8:30 Registration and Mingling
8:30 -  9:00    Welcome and Icebreaker

  • Introduce Sponsors
  • Introduce High School Mentors
  • Teams Introduce themselves
  • Icebreaker

9:00 -10:00    Build Circuit Box
10:00 -11:30   Create Book with Recycled Paper Cover and Switch
11:30 - 12:00  Lunch and Networking  
12:00 - 12:45  Make it Visible Activity (Blogging and Social Media)
12:45 -  1:30   Make it with CODE  
 1:30 -  2:30   Create Book with Felt Cover

 2:30 -  3:00   Connecting the Dots - Next Steps

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 28: Leveraging Social Media Safely

As I prepare for Friday's Girls Make It Event at the Generator,  I'm trying to think of the best way to talk to girls under 13 about social media.  Most social media sites do not allow children under 13 to participate in order to comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  Yet we know that many students under 13 are involved with social media in both healthy and unhealthy ways.

There are many many great resources out there, such as Common Sense Media, that focus on online privacy appropriate use of today's technology, including social media sites.

My challenge was to give girls the message about how important it is for girls to be 'in the picture' of tech-savvy users of computers, and also help them understand how to use social media safely.

So I thought I'd share the story of some amazing outcomes that can happen when we leverage social media in a safe way.  In an earlier blog I shared the story of Sierra, a 10 year old girl, who became involved with the eNable community and ended up building a real 3D printed hand for her 5th grade science project with help from mentors the eNable Community.   But there's more to this story.

Sierra, discovered eNable because the founder of the eNable community, Jon Schull's actively participates in social media, and showed  up in a online social event (Google Hangout Out or Air) about 3D printed in education that I organized.    The eNable community itself is very active with social media to support its goals of matching people with 3D printers with people who need fingers and hands.

Sierra's interest in 3D printing has expanded to include her sister, Sage.  And through the use of social media Sierra and Sage were able to crowd fund a 3D printer to continue learning and helping others.   Check out the rest of their story here.

The key to their safe use of social media was that Sierra and Sage were working with adults in their lives to move their goals forward.   If your use of social media is under the supervision of trusted adults (teachers, parents, mentors),  then there is a good chance that your use is safe and appropriate.

The law does not say children under 13 can't use social media.  No.. the law says that organizations are not allowed to collect information about children under 13 without parental permission.  That makes perfect sense.   There are many things in life that you would NOT want kids to participate in without parental supervision.   My grandson has been skiing since he was 3,  but not without parents making sure he was safely equipped and was was getting the skills to ski safely.

So ladies,  make sure that the trusted adults in your life are involved in your use of social media. Your parent's permission is the first step,  but also involve your parents in your daily use of social media and have frequent discussion about the power that social media, along with its challenges.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 27 Ten Ways to EMPOWER Girls MAKERS (inspiring infographic)

Don't you love those days when something happens that totally inspires you!

Today was one of those days.

After spending most of the day working on preparations for the Girls Maker Day on Friday,  a chat window popped up on my computer from one of my co-conspirators for Girls Make IT Day +Jill Dawson .

She couldn't wait to share her latest creation with me.  This time it was not a hat, or a new scarf,  but a piece of research on inspiring female makers.  But in the true spirit of ANYTHING Jill does.. this was not an double space white paper!  Her research was CREATED with her amazing need to MAKE beautiful things.  Pop over to Jill's blog to giver her feedback on Draft 1 of this amazing infographic, which is fun, informative and a piece of art!

So glad to have her on the team that will be inspiring your middles school girls on Friday.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day 26 Growth Mindset

Today I watched a short animation on growth mindset and I thought it would be important to share with you .  There are so many young women who have made up their mind that they are "not good at math"  or "science"  or "technology".   That type of thinking is known as a Fixed Mindset.  It is very important for all students to have a growth mindset (male and female).  Actually its important for us 'all" not just students to have a growth mindset.

But young women get so many messages early in life that can easily create a fixed mindset, that I thought I'd add the concept of the Growth Mindset to our language as we discuss some of the give our girls confidence that they can 'grow' a skill with the right mindset.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 25 Sew Electric

I just ordered six copies of the book Sew Electric for our Girls Can Make IT this Friday.  We aren't going to use it that day, but I do want to have enough copies for everyone to peruse it and see how helpful it could be when learning to code with eTextiles.

Working through the projects in this book as a group of girls would not only BE FUN... but it would also solidify our understanding of science and introduce us to coding.

My goal is to create a series of projects that introduce coding through eTextile.  The projects in this  book would be the perfect place to start.   I particularly liked the way the author uses the familiar structure of a recipe to introduce the structure of a computer program.

One part list the ingredients
The second part is the setup section where you prepare your ingredients.
The third part is the sequence that instructs you through each step of the recipe in a logical order to obtain the desired outcome.

Looking forward to using this book as a foundation to my goal of creating a series of workshops that helps girls get excited about learning to code.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day 24 Cassandra models the simplicity and power of blogs

On yesterdays post I asked "What can we as women do to help Shape the Future of Educational Technology?  How can we bring ourselves to the conversation?"   Well one way is to make ourselves visible in the blogosphere.  Today's post is about a remarkable young lady who models this well.  Meet Cassandra!

  A few months ago I met Cassandra, a 12th grade girl from Canada because she shared journey using a blog format. I was not only very impressed by her goals, and the actions she has taken towards meeting those goals,  but was also most impressed by her commitment to document that journey.   Learning to use a blogging platform is a simple but powerful tool that women and girls can use to bring themselves into the conversations that shape the future of technology and the future of our world. 

Cassandra's first blog post from October 10, 2014, not only kicks off her journey, but it also describes her goals, establishes her as a  young woman with a purpose and with some 'smarts' and 'skills'.   It also gives us a chance to connect with her as a person by hearing the story of her grandmother and the role she played in inspiring the Cassandra's project. 
GREAT  example  of how to document your work, tell your story, inspire others, and make connections.  It also adds one more tech-savvy female voice to the blogosphere!

Check out Cassandra's blog starting with her first blog post and then read the rest chronologically to see the progress she's made in such a short period of time. 

------------------- From Cassandra's blog  (October 10, 2014) --------------------

Hello everyone!

My name is Cassandra and I am a grade 12 student in New Brunswick, Canada. This blog is to record my journey as I progress through my physics final project. For this project, I have 3D printed a prosthetic hand. The design is courtesy of 3D Universe and can be downloaded here. Using the included tensioner system, I plan on automating this. By using Servo motors and a programmed Arduino chip and a 5- button panel to indivudally control which finger is bent and what degree it is bent. I am not sure how I will power the motors and chip yet, but I am leaning towards solar rechargeable batteries. I would have two sets, so one can charge in the sun during the day while the other is in use.

This project presents many challenges for me. I have absolutely no background in circuits. I have some background in programming, but it still needs a lot of work. the additional assembly parts, motors, Arduino and button panel all add up to cost a pretty penny; I have little money to invest in this project. I also have to design a second gauntlet to put all of this additional equipment on. I think I will use to design it. These are all minor roadblocks however, as I have support and guidance in these areas so I can begin to master these valuable skills.

The inspiration for this project comes from my grandmother, who is an amputee. She lost her leg below the knee when she was 19 after getting hit by a car. My grandmother's sister is also a leg amputee, and will lose her knee soon because her prosthetic rubs her stump very harshly and the device itself is too expensive to be replaced. Inspiration also comes from 3D universe, they are comparing their design to modern prosthetic hands. The cost difference is remarkable. They are also working to make their design more available to the public. Check out their work here.Project Daniel  is also a great inspiration. In fall 2013,  Mick Ebeling of Not Impossible travelled to Sudan with Microsoft Surfaces, 3D printers and plastic to war ridden Sudan. Over 50,000 people, mainly children, have been left amputees. The project began with one boy, named Daniel. Ebeling created and printed a prosthetic arm for Daniel and taught hi how to design, build and print limbs for others. Even though Ebling is no longer there, Daniel and his others continue to print limbs for others in need. Check out this video to learn more about the Daniel Project.

This project won't be easy for me, I will work for hours. Things will go wrong. I will probably cry, smile, scowl and laugh throughout the entire course of this project, but I will take so much away from this project. What I take away from this project isn't the point of why I decided to attempt this. My physics teacher taught me this: science and engineering and special technology isn't just for the advancement of our own minds or to make life easier for us. The purpose for all of that is to help others and make life easier for them. That is my main purpose for this project.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 23: Who will shape The Future of Educational Technology

This week was a crazy busy week for me as I prepared and presented 4 sessions at the Florida Educational Technology Conference.  I was with my tribe, lots of great passionate educators.  The conference ended with a great panel of speakers looking into the future and predicting the Future of Educational Technology.   I enjoyed the session very much,   but as I snapped a picture of the stage,  it occurred to me that absent from that stage was the voices of women sharing their predictions for the future of educational technology.

LADIES.. where where we in that SESSION!  Why weren't we there?  What can we do to make sure that we are involved in the shaping of the future of technology and that we are in the conversations that shape the future.

I'm not blaming FETC, they did a great job including women in their list of keynotes this year. 
( see post earlier this week)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day 22: Tech Savvy Women as Keynotes at FETC 2015

I was very excited to see the names of two very tech-savvy women on the list of keynote speakers at the Florida Educational Technology Conference.  From FETC webpage

Opening Keynote: Learning is an Epic Win

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21 • 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Jane McGonigal
Director of Game Research and Development, Institute for the Future
@avantgame | | TED Talk
Jane McGonigal, PhD, is a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games who believes game designers are on a humanitarian mission. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, and is the inventor and co-founder of SuperBetter, a game that has helped nearly half a million players tackle real-life health challenges such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and traumatic brain injury.
She has created and deployed award-winning games, sports and secret missions in more than 30 countries on six continents, specializing in games that challenge players to tackle real-world problems, such as poverty, hunger and climate change, through planetary-scale collaboration. Her best-known work includes EVOKE, Superstruct, World Without Oil, Cruel 2 B Kind, Find the Future, and The Lost Ring, which have been featured in The New York Times, Wired and The Economist; and on MTV, CNN and NPR.
As Director of Games Research & Development at the Institute for the Future, a non-profit research group in Palo Alto, CA, her research focuses on how games are transforming the way we lead our real lives, and how they can be used to increase our resilience and well-being. She is also the founder of Gameful, “a secret headquarters for world-changing game developers.
She has a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in performance studies, and has consulted and developed internal game workshops for more than a dozen Fortune 500 and Global 500 Companies, including Intel, Nike, Disney, McDonald's, Accenture, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Before joining IFTF, she taught game design and game theory at UC Berkeley and the San Francisco Art Institute.
She enjoys speaking to global audiences, and has appeared at TED and the New Yorker Conference, and keynoted SXSW interactive, the Game Developers Conference, the Idea Festival, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Web 2.0 Summit, UX Week, Webstock. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Games for Change, and for the annual Serious Games Summit at the Game Developers Conference.
A former New Yorker, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband Kiyash and Shetland Sheepdog Meche.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 22 • 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM
A typical education takes twelve years to achieve. A dozen years from now, students graduating from high school will have had exposure to 3D printing all throughout their education. What will this mean for the development and use of the technology, and what will the world be like when all college students have grown up with 3D printing?
Jennifer Lawton
CEO, Makerbot
@jennylawton  | Keynote video
Jennifer Lawton has been with MakerBot since 2011 and has been responsible for the overall strategy and growth of the company, including strategic partnerships, product development, and retail. In addition to her work with MakerBot, she is a respected company builder, technologist and advocate for fostering entrepreneurship.
In 1991, Lawton co-founded Net Daemons Associates (NDA), an information technology consulting firm. With Lawton as CEO, NDA was recognized on the 1998 Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing privately held U.S. companies, and on the Deloitte and Touche Fast 50 and Fast 500 lists for 1997 and 1998. In 1999, Net Daemons was acquired by Interliant Inc. (formerly Sage Networks), where Lawton served as a senior vice president. She later worked as an entrepreneur-in-residence with Softbank and Mobius Venture Capital.
In 2001, Lawton left the corporate world to become the owner of the independent bookstores Just Books and Just Books, Too, as well as Arcadia Café in Old Greenwich, CT. After 10 years running successful retail ventures, Jenny re-entered the business scene, serving as COO for Rockin' Water and RAM Scientific, and SVP Operations for Mercury Solar Systems.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day #21 Surprise meeting with one of my heroes at FETC

Had a really fun surprise today as I wandered around the Incubator Section  of the FETC exhibit hall.  Stopped by to examine an intriguing product that teachers computational thinking to Kindergarten students in a very kinesthetic way:  Kinderlab 

Within minutes of talking to the gentlemen at the booth, I started to make connections between the pedagogical approach to some of the points in my presentation tomorrow on teaching younger learners to code using iPads using tools like Scratch Jr,  HopScotch, etc.  His eyes smiled as he called over a women who was just finishing up a conversation around the corner.   As she came around the corner, she looked familiar and then I spotted her name tag.

OMG!  I was standing right next to the women to lead the Scratch JR. project ~ Marina Umaschi Bers!   I couldn't believe it!  Her work at Tufts has been inspirational and here she was standing right next to me!   

 It's too late for me to write more tonight... but what a treat to have Marina herself show me about her new project~  Kinderlab  
 (which I'll write more about later) 

For now.. I've got to go finish my presentation and add a few new slides about Kinderlab to my presentation for tomorrow.

Day #20 Blast from the past - Tech Savvy Girls win Video Content

Playing catchup after missing a couple days away from the blog due to our moving the bus and preparing for FETC conference in Orlando, but still inspired to write about girls and technology and  determined to  play catchup and get back on track.

 Here's a post about a past Tech Savvy Girls success that's worth sharing.


Students were involved in every step of this video Having pictures and cameras in the girls’ hands throughout the week has always been one of our success strategies – let girls use creativity tools to tell their story – then provide them with some good content (themselves learning new tech skills) to film and photograph.  


Using the tools to create digital stories of girls using technology reinforces the message that ‘girls can and should be’ in the picture of a tech-savvy society. This strategy helps counter the images they might encounter in real life such as computer classes that are 90% male as they walk through school; boys huddled around robotics or computer centers in their classroom; or career role models that reinforce gender stereotypes that technology is a guy’s world.

During the week, the girls tell a different story – a story where they are in the picture of a high tech world. . One group of girls took pictures that captured the essence of Tech Savvy Girls and created the introduction using Animoto (an online video tool). Another group of girls learned that Scratch – the program they used to create computer games, could also be used to create animations for a digital story. These girls recorded the narratives and wrote the computer scripts to animate the characters using the same software they had used to create their computer games.

This further reinforced the concept that a high tech career can involve many roles, including careers that use their creative sides. Another group of girls interviewed one of the junior counselors and each other using Flip Cameras, Digital Cameras, and Audacity – again further reinforcing the concept that girls like technology when they are making a difference and have something real and meaningful to do with it. The logo at the beginning of the movie was created by yet another group of girls using Aviary – an free online tool that they can use beyond camp.

Yet another group of girls took the Flip Video footage from the week and sliced and assembled it into small video segments for the “on location” parts of the video. They got feedback from each other to get each segment to capture the spirit of that camp activity within the ‘time constraint’ given for each segment – yet another key to creativity. Although each segment was created during Tech Savvy Girls Summer Camp week, the finally stitching together of the final program submitted was not done by the girls as time ran out. As adults we put their work together into one video and uploaded it to You Tube. Unfortunately, the final product loss some quality when it was finally assembled into yet another tool – but we feel that the process of creating a digital story with real tools that were accessible in the daily lives of these girls trumped having a high quality rendition of a product produced by specialized tools that are not available to them beyond camp.

This video production project provided Tech Savvy Girls with with confidence, skills, and experience with accessible tools – all strategies for closing the gender gap found in today’s high tech world. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day #19 Sierra, Sage, and Ebba's inspirational story

Yesterday I introduced you to Sierra who assembled her first 3D printed hand for her 5th grade science fair.  But there is much more to the story of Sierra who is now joined by her sister Sage in their pursuit to use 3D printers to help others.

After a successful crowdsourcing campaign the girls ended up with their own 3D printer and continued to work on the design for a hand for 8 year old Ebba.

The story in this video reinforces what we know about one of the main reasons  young women pursue high tech careers -- to help others!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Day 18: Sierra's inspiration to become Tech Savvy

Last week I posted about two amazing young women I met at the HackLab in North Boyton. This week I thought I'd repost an article of another amazing young lady I met spring that once again shows up the world is full of female role models (young and old). One of the trends that you will find amongst techsavvy girls is that they were often drawn to technology by a desire to help. In this case Sierra wondered how 3D printers could help people and animals. ---- reposted from Create Make Learn Blog -------
Last week I posted about two amazing girls

Sierra 's Science Fair Project

On Thursday, June 13, the gym at Monkton Central School was buzzing with students passionately showing off their science fair projects.  The artifacts, ranging from poster boards to digital exhibits created using applications like Haiku Deck and Prezi, to 3D printed hands, represented learning driven from the curiosity inside each of these 5th grade students.    

The curiosity of 10 year old, Sierra, about how 3D printing can be used to improve the lives of humans and animals, lead her to a journey that went far beyond textbook or Internet research.  It lead her to connect with the e-NABLE community for some real ‘hands on’ learning assembling her own 3D printed prosthetic hand.  

While Sierra was doing research for her science project, her mom noticed an announcement of a Google Hangout on Air where Vermont educators were conducting their own inquiry about the role of 3D printing in education.  She quickly followed up with Vermont educator, Lucie deLaBruere,  to get contact information about  Jon Schull, researcher scientist from Rochester Institute of Technology who had  joined the conversation and shared the work of the e-NABLE community.  Sierra and her mom, Lianne, reached out to the eNable community and got a quick response from volunteer member Jeremy Simon.

Jeremy, who runs 3D Universe, helped Sierra understand the math involved in printing a hand and printed a hand that fit her own hand.  Within just a few days, Sierra and her Mom were opening a package mailed to them from Jeremy which contained the hardware and 3D printed parts that Jeremy had printed for Sierra to assemble a 3D printed hand.  Sierra followed the step by step directions posted online, stopping for an occasional ice cream break, while her mom documented the progress using the iMotion app on her iPad.

Persevering past her bedtime, Sierra finished the assembled hand within 2 days. The build took approximately 5 hours and made it possible for her to reach the following conclusion for her science project:

“My results show that the 3D printed hands can help people in need of hands. I know because of my research.  People have sent hands everywhere to people who need them and they work - people can pick up things.  It’s like a real hand!

As often happens during authentic personalized learning, the whole class learned from watching their classmate’s journey, and Sierra’s teacher, Ms. Gagner, invited Jeremy Simon, e-NABLE volunteer, to share his expertise about 3D printing with the whole class via Skype.  Bringing experts into the classroom using virtual field trips via Skype and Google Hangouts is expanding the possibilities of what students learn and from whom they learn, making learning even more personal than ever. 

Student learning is no longer limited to what their teacher’s know or to what publishers include in textbooks.  Mentors like Jeremy Simon can help individual students or a whole class understand new ideas and concepts, with students driving the learning with their questions being answered in real time.

After a successful assembly of the “Cyborg beast” as a model for her science fair project, Sierra wanted to take her learning to the next level and actually print a 3D hand for a real child.  The e-NABLE community quickly found an 8 year old girl who has a functional thumb, but missing fingers.  Sierra is working with her new mentor, Jeremy from 3D Universe, to help build and test a new type of design, that will be sent to an 8 year old girl, 2000 miles away.

In an era where the educational landscape is filled with talk of personalized learning, Sierra’s story provides a powerful example and model of how maker tools and maker empowerment can contribute to true personalized learning.  

Learn more about Sierra and her project here:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Day 17: Girls Who Code Summer Immersion expands to 60 cities

More than a thousand  high school girls will be learning to code this summer thanks to the 
Girls Who Codes  Summer Immersion program.  Girls Who Code just announced that they are now  taking applications for their  2015 seven week summer program which will be offered in 60 cities. That’s triple the amount of cities from last year with a goal of serving  triple the amount of girls it reached last year (375). 

So if you are a junior or high school girl interested in learning to code who live in one of these cities,  fill out your application for this  amazing free opportunity. 

Austin, TX
Boston, MA
Chicago, IL
Los Angeles, CA
Miami, FL
Mountain View, CA 
Newark, NJ
New York, NY
Palo Alto, CA
San Francisco, CA
San Jose, CA
San Ramon, CA
Seattle, WA
Springfield, MA
Washington, DC

You’ll  learn the skills you need to write computer programs and design mobile apps and build robots.   You’ll get to meet women in the computer industry  and get exposed to aspects of the business including mobile apps and robotics.  Check out what these girls had to say about their experience at Girls Who Code.

Reshma Saujani
One of the things I like about the approach that Reshma Saujani (founder and CEO of Girls Who Code) takes is that she is committed to keep the girls involved with high tech professionals long enough to  learn to code.  One Hour of Code is fun;  a one week summer camp can get your feet wet,   but seven weeks of coding with industry professionals will actually build the skills you need to understand what’s involved with learning to code and set you off towards an exciting high tech career.

Kudo's to Girls Who Codes for getting the industry support they need to set their site on teaching one million girls to code.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Day 16: Role models come in all sizes and all ages

Tonight I met two amazing young women who left me inspired and in awe with their tech skills.

As I walked into  The HackLab North Boyton for their  bi-weekly Project Night lead by David Vitrant, I was not surprised to see a dozen or so men huddled around robot kits, Arduino boards,  and soldering irons.  The group was a welcoming group and I soon found myself with a soldering iron in hand trying to improve my aim as I helped one of the members assemble mini circuit boards, resistors, and LEDs.  After a few false starts, I got a chance to use soldering WICK to 'unsolder' my mistakes.   It goes without saying that I'm very early into putting in my 10,000 hours of practice towards become an expert maker.  I gave myself a pep talk and  reminded myself of the "experience gap" and did not become discouraged.  Since someone had grabbed the solder, I  decided to take a stretch break and wander around for a bit.

What I didn't expect was that I was about to be totally inspired by two amazing young women who had quietly settled in to work on a project at table in the back of the room.  One of them was just putting the soldering iron back in its holster after completing the assembly of a button switch.  The other was in the midst of  assembling two stepping motors to a piece of acrylic.   Intrigued, I walked over and watched in awe as they continued with their project.

After a bit I introduced myself and learned that my two new role models,  Ellie and Mila,  were age 8 and 9.  I was delighted when I saw Mila grab the soldering iron again after securing  a tiny circuit board onto a 'third hand'.  I realized that if I stuck around and lurked that I might pick up a few pointers.  I watched carefully!

What I  left with was much more than pointers of how to use a third hand and a magnifying glass and how to add just the right amount of solder.  I left truly inspired.  If Mila could do it,  so could I!  I just needed a bit more practice.  I asked Mila how long she had been soldering.  "Since December"  she answered confidently and continued to work on her project. Meanwhile,  Ellie (equally confident) suggested to her Dad that she unscrew the assembly she had just put together to make some minor adjustments.

After asking the girls, then Dad,  for permission to take a few pictures, I snapped away, while telling these amazing young women about  Super Awesome Sylvia (another 9 year old girl who had inspired me with her own Maker Show).

One the way home,  it occurred to me that I couldn't have been more inspired had it been Yahoo's Marissa Mayer or Facebooks' Sheryl Sandberg sitting in that room tonight.

Thank you Mila and Ellie for making my night.  I know that you will be a role model to  many more women (young and old) as you continue on your journey.

P.S.  Thanks also to Mila and Ellie's Dad who obviously gets it.  (More about the role of Dad's in the lives of TechSavvy girls in future post).

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day 15: Where are the Girls? Carnegie Mellon is tops in number of girls in computer science

Everyone is talking about how few women there are in computer science and how se need to change this. Everyone agrees that its a complex issue and hard ‘nut to crack’.  As a matter of fact there have been lots of smart people working on bridging the gender gap in computer science for many years.

And one group of ‘smart people’  who is getting it right AGAIN  are folks at Carnegie Mellon.  As a matter of fact, in 2014 they announced  that a record number of women “make up 40 percent of the incoming class of undergraduates this fall in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science (SCS).”

Photo credit:  Women@SCS Roadshow
But this is not the first time that Carnegie Mellon has hit a 40% mark in the number of women in their Computer Science program.  Back in 2000, when I was doing my research on gender and technology, Carnegie Mellon was boasting 40% female. 

There might be circumstances that helped fuel those numbers (i.e. the dot com era of the late 90’s) and the ‘current’ attention and efforts being put towards increased participation in STEM careers by schools and industry.  But the truth of the matter is that Carnegie Mellon’s numbers are still higher than other universities (who operate under the same circumstances).   

So what’s working at CMU?  Probably lots of things are making the difference, but the one thing that was true in 2000 and that is true today is the CMU's EXPLICIT focus on  providing women with the same opportunities that are available to men who study computer science “mentors, networks and role models, as well as friends who are also computer science majors”.  

Instead of focusing on the differences between men and women to find the solution to bridging the gender gap,   computer science professor,  Lenore Blum, focused her efforts on being EXPLICIT in providing women who enter the program,  the same opportunities  as their male counterparts in a program called Women@SCS.  

"What we have shown is that making these opportunities explicit for the minority in a population ends up working to the advantage of everybody," she said. "We see that women and men exhibit similar spectra of interests, ranging from coding to designing computer systems to developing applications of computer science."    

So when we want to fuel change,  we can do lots of research on the what might be causing the problem or we could go research the “bright spots”.  In their book “Switch, How to Change when Change is Hard”. the Heath brothers advise that  taking a look at those having success and trying to replicate the conditions that yield that success, is a strategy that yields results.   Carnegie Mellon is obviously a bright spot!

Source: Press Release: Women Comprise 40 Percent of Computer Science Majors Among Carnegie Mellon's Incoming First-Year Class 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Day 14 Where are the Girls? At Google's Computer Science Summer Institute, of course!

Its important for girls to see themselves in the picture when making decisions about  future opportunities.  This photo from Google's Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) does a great job of reaching out to young women.

1)  It looks like FUN!  

2)  There are girls there!  Lots of them!  

So even if you are not a senior already considering computer science, this picture might help you see computer science as a possible opportunity for you!  Share away!

And if you are a high school senior that's interested in computer science,  you should definitely apply for Generation Google scholarships.  Who couldn't use an extra $10,000 towards school college tuition! 

And why wait until the Fall to start learning your trade.  Why not apply to spend two weeks at Google with other high school seniors at Google Computer Science Summer Institute.  

Applications for both the scholarship and the summer institute can be found at: 

Day 13: Starting a Waiting List

WoW!  Our Girls Make IT Day at the Generator  filled up so quickly.  We didn't have many spots.  Six schools (2 girls and one educator) were snagged up in less than a week. We've changed the the sign up list to a Waiting List and promise there will be more opportunities. So get on our waiting list and and we'll keep you posted.

For a few months now I've been cooking up something fun with Jill Dawson,  Vermont Works for Women and the Generator!  And today we're ready to unveil a fun all girls Maker Event that will be held Friday January 30 at the Generator in Burlington Vermont.

 "SIGN UP" to be on a waiting  to attend our next Girls MAKE it:  Circuits, Coding and eTextile session.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Day 12: Tech Savvy Entrepreneur Speaks to St. Albans City School students

What a pleasure it was to meet Michele Joel today and listen to her speak to the students from St. Albans City School during their Day of Code event.  Michele talked about the role that bullying played in her childhood and how that gave her the inspiration she needed to envision and follow through on an idea for a new fun  mobile app that is not only prevent bullying but to educate young people about ways to responsibly use social media.   Her app, Social Sitter generates tokens and prizes for positive social media comments and flags less positives ones, offering suggestions.

Michele talked about her journey in becoming an entrepreneur and building a team to help her build the app she envisioned.

"One of the toughest parts of being a women in this role is getting people to realize and respect you as the business owner, not a sales rep or a marketing rep." explained Michele in response to one of the students question.

Her advice to students to find something that makes them angry and create a solution to the problem was inspirational to both boys and girls.  

 Click here to watch ARCHIVED VIDEO from January 12, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. 

Michele Joel - President of  Social Sitter, Inc. 

Social Sitter is a young company looking to help students build positive interactions in social media.  Michele is an energetic entrepreneur that has a sincere passion for the power of technology and the ways it can strengthen student interactions.  She has developed her own business from scratch and is a model for young women looking to build markets in the education technology sector.  Michele will talk about her path to entrepreneurship, how she works with programmers and coders, what lessons she has learned about student opportunities in the field and she will also give a short demo of the product she designed. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day 11 Fantastic TechSavvy Role Models

Are you looking for stories of TechSavvy female role models to share with your students. Both boys and girls need to see women in the picture when thinking and talking about the world of tech. One great place to find such stories is at

In 2012  launched a collection of 100 stories of groundbreaking women. In 2013, MAKERS premiered the documentary, MAKERS: Women Who Made America, telling the story of the modern American women's movement for the first time on television. The film aired on PBS to 4.3 million viewers and trended #1 on Twitter worldwide when it premiered. In 2014 they launched another series of documentaries each featuring Women in Space, Comedy, Business, War, Hollywood, and Politics.

Check out some of the stories of these women in tech, and many more inspiring women by browsing the category:

Adding women like Heather Fleming, Julia Kaganskiiy, Reshma Saujani, Anne Wojcicki, and Marissa Mayer to the mix of role models we provide our girls is one way to help our girls picture themselves in the future of tech.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day 10 - Helping Girls Understand The Experience Gap

 A few years ago,  one of my former students came back to visit.  After completing a year as a civil engineering major at VTC, she was excited to tell me that after a successful first year she was transferring to Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. As she described her first year of college to me,  she gave me the nicest compliment.

"Ms. deLaBruere,  I would have never survived the first year if you had not explained to us the concept of 'experience gap".   Every time we got an assignment, I would go to the tools closet and try to figure out which tools we needed.  Then when I found them I had to figure out how to use that tool.  Meanwhile the boys in the class were on step 10 of the assignment.  My understanding the "experience gap' concept was key to my 'not dropping out'.

As you work with women and girls,  make sure they understand "the experience gap" 

Photo Credit:

Friday, January 9, 2015

Day 9: Amazing Sylvia is an Amazing Role Model and Inspiration

What Middle School girl do you know that has published her first book,   had her own Maker Show on You Tube,  attended Maker Faires internationally, including the White House Maker Faire and Rome Maker Faire and is the talk of the town in the community in the maker community.

If you have not met her yet, you are in for a real treat.  Meet Sylvia!   She started publishing videos when she was 9.  Not just any videos!   The  videos are part of Sylvia's Super Awesome Maker Show   and they are  filled will fun, inspiration, and instructions to maker projects that have inspired many.   

And guess what.. Sylvia has finally revealed the "secret project" she's been working on.  This middle school girl has  published her first book.  Check out her blog post announcing her book and updating her fans about what's been keeping her busy! Super busy!  

Sylvia, you are an inspiration to Tech Savvy Girls! 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Day 8: Celebrating with our Sister Geeks

One of the most rewarding parts of being part of a network is that you multiply your joy in life by the number of people in your network. So when one of our sister geeks gets recognized, we all cheer.

Check it out, Jill Dawson's reindeer hat was featured on the 1/7/2015 episode of Wearable Wednesday

This was Jill's first wearable tech project, a hat made with a LilyPad Arduino, a temperature sensor, buzzer, and several LEDs. To learn more about it, please visit her blog. (and give her some blog love +1 Jill Dawson's

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 7: Launching a Girls MAKE It event: Circuits, Coding, and eTextiles

For a few months now I've been cooking up something fun with Jill Dawson,  Vermont Works for Women and the Generator!  And today we're ready to unveil a fun all girls Maker Event that will be held Friday January 30 at the Generator in Burlington Vermont.

Check it out below and then run back to your school to see if you can "SIGN UP" a team of two middle school girls and an educator to attend our first Girls MAKE it:  Circuits, Coding and eTextile.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day 6: Where are the Girls? Not so easy to count.

Yesterday,  I  posted some data that once again demonstrated that our AP computer science classes
Photo Credit.  Public Domain
are not the places where you will find many girls in most high schools.   One of the reasons we are aware of these numbers is that there is accessible data that can be quantified.

However it is not the only place we should look when measuring success. Girls are involved in many areas that give them a chance to grow and use their tech skills, and often these areas are not counted as 'measures' of success when we look at the outcome of girls programming that provides girls with technology skills and confidence in using technology.

Many years ago I was involved in an IT related economic development committee  that was looking for 'stories' to make their data come alive in a report they were writing.   I shared with them a story of a young lady who I saw as a shining star.  When I shared her story, they decided not to use it because she went into 'civil engineering'  not IT.

Vicky* had been involved in Tech Savvy Girls for 4 years.  After a field trip we took to Vermont Technical College to participate in Vermont Works for Women's Annual "Women Can Do" event, she visited the school guidance department to change her math class from business math to Algebra 2  so she could apply to Vermont Technical College's civil engineering program.

Vicky also convinced her best friend, Debbie*  to join her in taking Algebra 2.    Debbie  applied to VTC also, but in the end chose to go to Community College so that she could continue the job she had landed right out of college because she had great business and tech skills.

During a week  Tech Savvy Girls Summer Leadership Camp for High School Girls, Carole fell in love with the campus at UVM and applied to  University of Vermont to major in Biology.  She was the only girl in her computer programming class in high school.  She had dismissed her guidance counselors suggestion that she fill up the open slot in her schedule with an art class because she saw "programming" was offered in the same time slot.  She didn't have the background  for "AP programming"  but remembered that Ms. deLaBruere had said that programming was a gateway to many many careers.  She didn't want to become a computer scientist, but thought this would be a good choice.

NONE of these three girls counted in the the quantifiable data that the IT economic development committee was looking. Nor did their story qualify for the  'case study' they wanted in their report.

NONE of these girls would have counted in the numbers currently being shared about the number of girls enrolled in AP Computer Science.

I surely count them in my measures of success when I think of Tech Savvy Girls.  How do we count the data that is not easy to capture?   Let's not forget that the numbers are only part of the picture, and lets keep sharing the stories of success and also look to add a variety of indicators and measures when we evaluate the successes of our programs.

*Names have been changed to protect individual privacy