Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Day 81: Advice from a high school role model at Girls Make IT Day

Some people make a difference in the world everywhere they go.  Maxine, a senior at Essex High School is just one of those people.

I first met  Maxine when she and a group of high school friends sat down at our "Build a 3 Day printer in a Weekend" exhibit at the Champlain Mini Maker Faire. As you can see from this video, she and her friends loved geeking out.

 Little did I know then that Maxine would  keep coming into my life as a advocate for girls in tech.

Maxine sharing her hat at
Generator eTextile Social
The next time I bumped into her was during an  eTextile social at our local maker space - the Generator.  Maxine showed up with a very cool eTextile hat she had made and blew us all away.  I quickly invited her to join us on the Girls Make It Day we were planning around the topic of Circuits, Coding and eTextiles and was tickled pink when she said YES!

I knew how important high school mentors were to middle school girls.  High school girls are 'within reach'  to our middle school girls.  They can look at them and say  to themselves, "In a few years I'm going to be where she is".  They can imagine being there and are ready to  take the next step in that direction.

As predicted, Maxine was a big hit at the first Girls Make IT Day.  Her presence was key to the success of the day.  Her sincere authentic way of being with the world connected with everyone there.  And then when she showed the girls how to solder, she became the coolest girls in the place.  With Maxine's help,  the girls saw the soldering station at the Generator as a place that could empower them to take their projects to the next level.

For our second Girls Make It Day we were ready to move beyond bling and add coding to our skill set by having the girls use a LilyPad Arduino to  control the LED  in craft flowers they created.   I gave Maxine a challenge when I invited her -- "What if you created a flower that had sensors or motors to bring?"   She did not disappoint and showed up with this masterpiece with laser cut pieces and a servo motor.  I'm not sure our middle school crew appreciated it as much as I did,  but it was the perfect artifact to show the girls who had just moved 'beyond bling" what could happen next if they were to move "beyond blink."

My favorite part of having Maxine at Girls Make It Day 2 was  when she shared that she had just been accepted to Bucknell University where she would be majoring in chemical engineering and then offered advice to the girls for their upcoming journey through high school.

Thank you, Maxine for being an amazing role model for young women! I can't wait to follow your journey and watch you to continue to make a difference in the world.

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