Girls Outreach

 

Mentoring and encouraging middle-school and high-school girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

Spring 2015

WWit through the IT Workshops in a Box grant delivered 12 IT workshops to middle school girls at the Connection Corner and Motivate Our Minds in Muncie.  A link to the website for access to the workshops is in the works.  Please contact Kirsten at kirstensmith@bsu.edu if you would like to be notified when the website is active.

Boys & Girls Club of Muncie, Indiana

Boys & Girls Club: DIY Speakers

May 12, 2014
Girls and boys created their own home speakers out of Pringles cans, glitter, and thumbtacks.

Boys & Girls Club: Basic Circuits Activity Part 2

April 16, 2014
Story by Maria Strauss

The library room at the Boys and Girls Club of Muncie was unusually quiet, even though its surroundings were an organized chaos of basketball, snacking on freshly baked cookies, and that loud chattering and running around that middle and high school students often do. Inside the quiet room, six girls and a few volunteers decorated blocks of woods with markers, stickers, and electrical components.

The purpose of the Girls Outreach session was to teach the girls about series circuits by creating one themselves with a nine volt battery, copper wire, resistors, and LED lights.

However, the session turned into something much more.

After the ​girls were shown how a series circuit functions, they quickly went to work creating art for a step-father in the hospital, the “best mom ever,” and even a potential admirer whose name begins with “Q.”

The initial reaction to the electrical components was a mixture between a natural curiosity, but also intimidation. Some girls started creating circuits immediately even before the demonstration, while others were apprehensive of bending the wire.

However the reaction to the illumination of the LED lights was always a unanimous, “Woah!!” You could see the confidence grow one-by-one as each girl connected the final wire to the negative terminal of the battery.

At the end of the night, every girl and volunteer took home their own series circuit art.

Boys & Girls Club: Basic Circuits Activity

February 19, 2014
Story by Larissa Denton

Cinnamon gummy hearts were passed around the table at Smart Girls group. “Would you like some vitamins?” Miss Janie, the adult leader kidded. “Those are candy!” Kamari insisted, every time the gummies were passed around. We went through our presentation. Conductive paint, a few LED lights that acted as diodes, and some bargain artwork from Goodwill; the girls would be able to create some custom artwork that would demonstrate electricity and light up. Maria Strauss, President of WWiT, explained how electricity flows like water, in one direction and with a current. The diodes act as trap doors that will stop the flow of electricity if the current flows in the wrong direction.

After the presentation the girls were divided into teams, each with a mentor, and everyone got to work. Slowly the conductive paint was brushed into hearts, stars and abstract shapes. While the conductive paint dried the girls let their imaginations run wild and soon the bargain paintings bore the embellishments that each team could dream up; mixing colors they painted Initials, flowers, sunsets, and even fingernails. During the parting stage, cinnamon gummy hearts were passed around. After the conductive paint was dry, the LED lights were wired into the paintings and the batteries were taped on.

All three paintings lit up; we were three for three. The little red, green, and yellow lights flashed as adolescent fingers pressed the copper wire to the ends of the circuit, the light flickering as they squealed with delight at the presence of electricity in their design. Gathering everyone up, we took a group shot after which the girls vied for the right to take their group’s painting home. As we admired the finished work, Markayla Hill asked if she could keep hers. “I want to show my science teacher.”

Boys & Girls Club: Cyber Bullying

December 4, 2013

photo Story by Larissa Denton

Skittles were passed from hand to hand, some of which bore traces of maturity, while others were still the hands of children. The bright and colorful candy was strangely contrasted with the serious nature of the discussion at the girls outreach at the Boys and Girls club in Muncie; Cyber bullying, and specifically “sexting.”

Deb Howell, the Assistant Director of Information Security at Ball State joined the team of women from WWiT to do this talk tonight. She read to the girls about heartbreaking situations where young women had turned to suicide after being the butt of the cruelty of sexting or bullying. Most of the girls seemed to really listen to her talk, perhaps because the topic hit home. Do not ever send pictures of yourself to anyone. The stern warning hung in the air. Most of the girls knew someone who had been sexted before, if they hadn’t experienced overtures first hand. This was real to them.

Don’t say mean things about people on the internet, Deb told them. What kind of mean things, they would ask. Deb covered trigger words that the Department of Defense uses when looking for threats on the web; murder, kill, and the list goes on. Not even as a joke, the girls asked, incredulous at the power of the DOD over their “private” conversations. Nothing is private on the web, Deb explained.

The conversation took a positive turn at the end, when Deb explained a situation where her daughter had been threatened years ago. Tears rose in her eyes as she struggled to finish the story. The girls small faces were glued to Deb as she spoke; this was real for her too, not just them. No one is beyond the reach of hurt and cruelty.

Boys & Girls Club: Mobile Apps for School Workshop

November 20, 2013
CICS student, Lizz Elson, shows the girls mobile apps that can help them in their schoolwork.

CICS student, Lizz Elson, shows the girls some mobile apps that can help them with their schoolwork.

CICS graduate student Lizz Elson taught a workshop about mobile apps for school to the girls at the Boys and Girls Club of Muncie. The girls downloaded the apps during the workshop to their smartphones and iPads. The apps varied from StudyBlue, a flash card maker, to the Khan Academy, a virtual tutor for all diciplines of study.

Boys & Girls Club: Technology Gameshow

November 13, 2013

Roars of cheering, clapping, and laughter could be heard Wednesday night as teams of middle school and high school girls competed in a “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” gameshow. The questions varied from identifying female CEOs in the tech industry to guessing the number of users on social networking sites, like Facebook.

The girls were able to use “life lines” to clarify unfamiliar terminology in some of the questions, which often lead to answering the question correctly.

At the end of the night, three girls won prizes after being chosen by a raffle.

Boys & Girls Club: Safety on the Internet

November 6, 2013
GO1

Ball State’s Assistant Director for Information Security poses with the girls from the Boys and Girls Club at our latest Girls Outreach series.

Story by Maria Strauss

On a Wednesday evening, the teenage girls bustled into a small room just off the gymnasium at the Boys and Girls Club of Muncie, Ind. After catching up on gossip, things finally start to settle down. Well, kind of. Two sets of doors with missing windows separate us from boys shouting and playing in the gymnasium. But we make sure an important message about technology is heard. Tonight, the girls have been gathered in order to learn about safety on the Internet. You can tell that some of the information has reached them before. Don’t talk to strangers on the Internet. Don’t put your personal information online. Don’t send inappropriate pictures. But every once in awhile, you hear a comment between girls that shows that there’s still more to learn. But that doesn’t stop an important message about technology from being heard.

Women Working in Technology is expanding its influence into the Muncie community, beginning with a Girls Outreach program with the Boys and Girls Club this fall. We know that in order to get more women into STEM fields, we have to start encouraging them at a young age. National Public Radio reported that girls become disinterested in STEM as early as middle school. So, that’s the problem, but how do we go about solving it?

Women Working in Technology has chosen to step into the community to educate and serve as mentors for the girls at the Boys and Girls Club of Muncie. This fall features sessions about safety on the Internet, workshops on mobile apps for school, discussions on cyber bullying, and exploring how the Boys and Girls Club is connected to the Internet. Besides the Girls Outreach, Women Working in Technology is continuing to engage undergraduate women in discussions with the We Can Tech Too! Initiative as well as preparing for the Spring Conference for professional women March 28, 2014.