Teen Girls from Oakland Take Maker Faire Bay Area by Storm
High school girls from Techbridge Oakland programs to showcase human-powered bike generator, make-your-own lip balm and other self-engineered creations this Friday through Sunday
The San Mateo Event Center is abuzz with preparations for “the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth” and a group of teen girls from Oakland are proud to be among exhibitors like Intel and Barnes & Noble hustling to get their booth ready. Gates open wide on Friday, May 20th for Maker Faire Bay Area, and Oakland high school girls who have learned engineering and coding in Techbridge’s after-school programs will be among the Makers showing off their creations to an expected 145,000 visitors.
Maker Faire is a nationwide series of family-friendly festivals of invention and creativity that are part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new. Maker Faire Bay Area, a flagship event of the series, opens to the public Friday through Sunday, May 20-22, at San Mateo Event Center. “Making” is a thriving movement which urges people of all ages to celebrate and explore their ability to create things using science, technology, engineering and art.
The teen girls’ involvement in Maker Faire is orchestrated by Techbridge, an Oakland-based national nonprofit devoted to inspiring underserved girls’ passion for science, technology, engineering and math (“STEM”). Techbridge engages girls from underserved communities in embracing their inner “makers” through girls-only after-school programs across the country. For the girls from Oakland Unity High School and Oakland Technical High School, Maker Faire is the exciting culmination of a nine-month journey in which they have learned an array of science, technology and engineering skills then worked with mentors from companies like Chevron, Intel and Google to design and create their own STEM projects.
“Maker Faire provides a wonderful vehicle for these girls to take a challenging engineering project from concept to prototype, build confidence in their abilities, and become part of the vibrant Maker movement,” says Martha Pena, who directs Techbridge’s Bay Area Programs. “It’s a very empowering experience for these girls to see themselves among a community of innovators.”
The Techbridge booth will feature eleven (11) projects by girls from Oakland Unity High School and Oakland Technical High School. The girls’ projects include:
- a wood and bike wheel go-kart
- a human-powered bicycle generator
- a bridge that opens and closes using a servo
- an LED light-up tutu
- a pair of gloves that make different sounds when each finger is pressed
- another pair of gloves that light up with LEDs which were originally planned as a bracelet that would pulse with your heart-rate
- a robot that the girls built and then hacked by erasing the code that came with it and writing their own new code to make it move
- a web-based game named Maker Quest giving users a chance to search for QR codes around the Maker Faire, scan them, and win prizes (Saturday only 10am-3:30pm)
Visitors will also be invited to participate in an interactive art piece that asks participants to think about and draw what an engineer looks like, which was developed after the group's many attempts at making a photo booth “went south”; this pivot is a great example of the innovator’s mindset which Techbridge instills in girls.
A highlight of the Techbridge booth will be a fun chance for visitors of all ages to explore chemical engineering by creating their own lip balm. An activity popular with boys and girls, adults and kids alike, visitors use a pre-made base of shea butter, cocoa butter and beeswax, and mix in flavors and colors of their choice using essential oils like peppermint and vanilla, and colors used in commercial lipsticks such as Red 6 and Yellow 5. Visitors are encouraged to stop by the Techbridge booth early while lip balm supplies last.
Lip-balm makers can also participate in the “Post Your Pucker” on social media in support of girls in STEM, by smearing on their DIY gloss, puckering up, snapping a picture and tagging @TechbridgeGirls #MFBA2016 #PuckerUp
Techbridge’s Oakland programs and Maker Faire exhibit are made possible by sponsorship from longtime partner Chevron. “For over seven years, Chevron has partnered with Techbridge to help get girls interested and excited in science, technology and engineering through after-school programs, summer camps and role modeling and mentoring,” said Blair Blackwell, Manager, Education and Corporate Programs at Chevron. “As part of our ongoing commitment to STEM education, Chevron is delighted to support Techbridge’s Maker Faire activities to broadly inspire our community’s children about the wonders of STEM.”
Techbridge believes the engineering process offers unique benefits to empower girls from underserved communities, that go far beyond technical skills “Learning the engineer’s iterative process - design, test, troubleshoot, try again - transforms girls’ attitudes towards challenges and mistakes so that they begin to see challenges as learning opportunities.” says Pena. “Developing that grit is essential for girls who face so many barriers to success.”
All projects will be on display Friday through Sunday, May 20-22. Oakland Tech girls will be present to discuss their projects on Saturday, and Unity High girls present on Sunday.
Tickets and information on Maker Faire Bay Are available at http://makerfaire.com/bay-area/