Girls Technology Camp
Girls Tech Camp is an annual, week-long camp where middle school girls experiment with coding, augmented reality, 3D printing, audio and video production, microprocessors, wearables, and electronic crafts. Camp activities emphasize the important, and often over-looked, role of women in science and technology and empower young women to participate in STEM learning.
Over the past five years, I have helped design and teach many units within the camp (3D printing, augmented reality, wearables, microprocessors, sensors, electronic crafts). Girls Tech Camp was developed in collaboration with the Marston Science Library and the Alachua County Library and has received funding and support from Girls Who Code and SparkFun Electronics.
Role: Designer, Instructor
Responsibilities: Research, LX Design, Prototyping, Graphic Design, User Testing
Audience: Girls age 12-15
Tools Used: Adobe Photoshop, Scratch, HP Reveal, Tinkercad, Sketchup, Thingiverse, Lilypad Electronics, Arduinos
Girls come to camp with varying experience. Regardless of the specific tools or technology, all lessons introduce the tech and key concepts, help learners develop a familiarity with specific platforms/practice a few skills, and culminate in a creative project. Each module is a hybrid of online and in-person learning. Activities sequence learning objectives by starting with in-person examples, moving to online tutorials, practicing with individual challenges, and finally working in small group projects. Design emphasizes short, gamified challenges, and creative exploration.
Research indicates that women become less interested in the sciences during middle school. However, research also shows that girls feel more empowered to experiment with science and technology when working together. With Girls Tech Camp, mastery is not the goal, so modules focus on getting familiar with tools, empowering learners, and creating something "cool."
3D printing activities taught learners to 3D model and troubleshoot prints. Participants first designed an edible 3D pancake for a pancakebot printer, then designed a 3D name tag to practice skills, and finally collaborated on a Tactile Book project that adapts children's books into more accessible, 3D printed learning experiences.
Augmented Reality activities taught learners about locative mapping, augmented content, and triggers and overlays. Participants first went on an augmented reality scavenger hunt, then practiced creating overlays, and finally worked to create their own augmented reality projects.
Electronic crafts introduced learners to e-textiles, simple circuits, and paper crafts that use electronics. Through sequenced activities, girls created light up bracelets with Lilypad sewable electronics and conductive thread and built responsive LED cards with copper tape.
Campers work with Arduino microprocessors to learn simple coding and sensor technologies. For our projects, we created tiny robots with servo motors and music boxes with piezo tones. Learners worked with coding interfaces first and then connected wires and physical sensors to connect the digital and analog.