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Twin Cities Techettes Invites Young Women to Makerspaces

April 11, 2016

By Alyssa Costopoulos

Each year CTEP asks its members to form small groups that will identify a problem related to the digital divide and propose a solution. These civic engagement projects should be creative, collaborative, and sustainable. This year CTEP members Alyssa Costopoulos (Createch Studio-AHCC), Kathleen Trescony (Project for Pride in Living-Learning Center), and Jana Greenslit (Maplewood Library) have developed a two-week makerspace camp to get girls curious about how the world works and empower them to investigate it.

Youth makerspaces are cropping up across the Twin Cities like daffodils in spring. These creative DIY spaces encourage youth to make 3D printed objects and tinker with electronics, software, and crafts. Makerspaces in libraries, museums and community centers ask teens to think and create differently than they might during the school day.

We love this idea and help run our own makerspaces, but in so doing noticed a problem: young women participating in youth makerspaces all over the Twin Cities often realize they are the only woman in the room.

Some conclude this is because women just aren't interested enough in enhancing their education in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) through makerspaces. Worse still, others assume that women simply aren’t smart enough.

Instead, those of us directing the Twin Cities Techettes camp concluded that girls and women were being steered away from both makerspaces and STEM by social stereotypes.So we decided to create a two-week “makerspace camp” to get more women into makerspaces. Our bold goal is to change how girls in the Twin Cities think about science, technology, engineering, and math-- or STEM.

Research shows that, for a variety of reasons, some girls begin to lose interest (and confidence in their abilities) in math and science in middle school. The Twin Cities Techettes makerspace camp aims to engage girls between 13 and 18 years old, and to help them through these discouraging years to arrive at college with a positive attitude toward STEM studies.

The camps, which will be held at Maplewood Library and Createch Studio at Arlington Hills Community Center in late June and late July, are geared toward low-income middle schoolers and high schoolers who are enrolled in a college readiness program. The hope of the Twin Cities Techettes is to reward these students with laptops and tablets that will aid in their pursuit of college and beyond.

During the two week camps we challenge the participants to solve real-life STEM problems, develop technology skills that are necessary for life beyond high school, and explore makerspace opportunities. Mini workshops will also encourage the participants' academic success and creativity. The ultimate mission of the Twin Cities Techettes is to raise awareness about the digital divide, foster academic success, engage women in STEM, and encourage creativity.

For more information, check out The Twin Cities Techettes website or print out our flyer.

To help give girls an opportunity to participate in this camp, please donate to our Indiegogo fundraiser before June 5, 2016!