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).

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