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Greater Seattle Leads the Way

While Seattle is known for its stunning views of Mt. Rainier, the Seahawks, and of course the rain, it also made history this year as the first scale up city for Techbridge Girls outside the San Francisco Bay Area!  In partnership with the Highline School District, the 2014-2015 school year was a great success.  Techbridge programs were offered at five elementary schools in the Greater Seattle Area: Mt. View Elementary, Madrona Elementary, McMicken Heights Elementary, Beverly Park Elementary, and Hazel Valley Elementary, and two middle schools, Sylvester Middle School and Chinook Middle School, with an enrollment of about 170 girls.  Techbridge serves girls in the especially underserved communities of Burien and White Center in the Greater Seattle area.

 Chinook Class

Techbridge’s presence at each school has been met with great appreciation and enthusiasm. In May, Techbridge received a Community Partnership Appreciation award given by the Highline School District Board. This recognition was followed by each school’s principal expressing interest in continuing the partnership next year.  Principal Daniel Yarbough at Madrona Elementary School stated that “Techbridge is an asset to our school, and gives girls opportunities and exposure to the STEM field that they otherwise would not receive.”    Other partner teachers noticed an increase in girls’ confidence to try new things in their science classes.  Their once shy students -- especially those who speak English as a second language-- are more willing to share aloud in front of their peers.

We made great strides in creating partnerships in our first year with local educational institutions, technology companies, and also funding organizations.  The Techbridge girls especially loved seeing a 3D printer in action in the Engineering department at Renton Technical College.  The girls at Beverly Park Elementary School visited Facebook’s Seattle offices and participated in a coding activity with female software engineers. They experienced first-hand how engineers relieve stress and maintain a fun environment by jumping in the office’s own ball pit!   At Google, the girls from Madrona Elementary and Chinook Middle School really identified with software engineer, Martha Arellano, who is from Mexico.  They learned her story of overcoming challenges she faced emigrating from Mexico and got very excited when she spoke Spanish with them.  Along with partnerships made with field trip hosts and role models, we are excited to announce that Techbridge was awarded a $20,000 grant from the Women’s Funding Alliance, a leading philanthropy for women and girls, whose mission is to advance leadership and economic opportunity for women and girls in Washington State.

 

 

With our small, but mighty team of two, Chanel and I are especially proud of offering a strong and challenging program that exposes the girls  to opportunities in STEM career fields, and most importantly -- having fun along the way!   The girls went from saying, “Oh no, this is too hard,” in the beginning of the program, to “This isn’t so bad, we can do this!” as the year continued.  We watched girls gain confidence as they successfully completed a marble roller coaster in the structural engineering unit, and enjoyed seeing their faces light up during the chemical engineering rocket challenge.   They showcased grit and determination in building sturdy and sound bridges.  They expressed empathy and ingenuity when they learned about challenges girls face in other countries in the Girls Gone Global Unit.

 

  

Techbridge’s first year in the Greater Seattle Area has been filled with inspirational moments.  When entire classes of girls bemoan the ending of the school year because it means the Techbridge program will wrap up, it is clear we are doing things right. We are proud of the successful launch of our first scale up city, and we are looking forward to what the future will hold. We have created a spark in the communities we served in our first year, and it won’t be long until the Techbridge buzz spreads across Seattle and Washington State!

 

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