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Gearing Up With Girl (Electric) Power To Break Down Stereotypes!

 

Techbridge Girls in our California programs have had an exciting, hands-on January and February! Our Program Manager and alumna, Jaclyn Caldwell, developed an engaging woodworking curriculum to give our girls first-hand experience designing and creating common carpentry products such as wooden candleholders. In this unit, we demystified the idea that power tools are for boys or men and gave our girls the opportunity to feel empowered to saw, drill, sand, and stain their own carpentry creations. They also learned important safety precautions, such as how to hold drills and clamp wood to tables, so that they would be able to (with the help of their parents) go to a tool-lending library and acquire power tools to engage in more woodworking projects. In a follow-up lesson, the girls also handmade scented candles to use with their new candleholders! 

During the last week of the woodworking unit, Techbridge Girls learned about the effects of topography, forest density, and fuel load on forest fire ecology. To safely simulate forest fires for their observations, the girls split into small teams and built small-scale matchstick forests with varying densities and fuel loads, set in aluminum trays at 20-, 40-, and 60-degree slopes. The teams then took turns timing their forest fires in front of the class and writing down their observations. The girls were very excited to observe how their forest fires increased in intensity with higher slopes, as well as learn about the different careers involved in fire ecology. Watch out for some awesome women firefighters coming your way!

With the STEM skills they have learned this year, our girls are able to imagine themselves as future designers and environmental engineers. When asked, "Why do you think we are teaching you to use power tools?," one girl responded, "Boys use these tools, and we want girls to use them too!"

Now, our California Techbridge Girls are working on Community Impact Projects as the last stage of their program this school year. They’re identifying community needs, such as lighting on dark neighborhood streets, and employing the STEM skills they’ve learned in class to develop a product solution for that need. We are so excited to see what they’re designing and building!

 

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