I am very excited that Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color in space, is speaking this month at UVA! I wanted to learn more about her, so I did a little research. I found a TEDTalk she gave, Teach arts and sciences together, that really spoke to me. In it she talks about growing up loving fashion design, ceramics and dance while also avidly following the Gemini and Apollo programs and enjoying her science classes. Her point, in 2002, was that a false dichotomy had been set up between the arts and sciences.
"The difference between science and art is not that they are different sides of the same coin even or even different parts of the same continuum, rather they are manifestations of the same thing, they spring from the same source. The arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity. Itâ€™s our attempt as humans to build an understanding about the universe, the world around us."
In 2016, it seems like we are dealing with some unfortunate repercussions of this art vs. science attitude, especially as it relates to stereotypes. Have you ever been labeled as being right brain or left brain? Did you ever think that if you were good at math, you weren't creative or if you were an artist, you wouldn't be good with technology? This summer I saw many of the campers from the Art of Code: Tech-Girls Experience have the same epiphany, that oftentimes our preconceived notions about art and science limit us. We need to provide more arts and sciences learning opportunities to expand all our horizons.
Spotlight: Bio-Med Tech-Girls
Each month we spotlight a woman or girl in tech who inspires us. This month we are highlighting the Bio-Med Tech-Girls! This summer 13 young women participated from 8 schools around the region including Albemarle High School, Covenant School, Deep Run High School, Grace Christian School, Miller School, Monticello High School, St. Anneâ€™s-Belfield School, and Western Albemarle High School. They had a broad array of interests coming into the program including math, science, engineering, biology, nursing, robotics and coding.
During the program, participants get hands-on with creating technology, behind-the-scenes lab tours at UVA BIomedical Engineering, inspiration from guest speakers and an opportunity to solve a real-world problem through a design challenge.
Why is it important that we provide this kind of opportunity for young women? Hereâ€™s what the participants shared after just one day:
"I am most excited about having more females participate in these fields, instead of the stereotype of having only males choosing this particular career path."
"I'm glad to see other girls interested in STEM-related fields. Iâ€™m on my school robotics team. There are only about five girls total out of the 30ish people on the 3 teams we have, so itâ€™s really great to see these many girls who have the same interests as me."
"It is great to see more women participating in the STEM field. I have enrolled in Computer Science classes at my high school and there has been an extreme contrast between the number of boys and girls. Itâ€™s great to see other girls that have interests similar to mine!"
"It was also really cool to meet so many girls that have the same interests I do."
September 14 - CWIT: Past, Present and Letâ€™s-Create-the-Future! Charlottesville Women in Tech (CWIT) hosts monthly meetings that include speakers on tech topics and allow for networking with other local women. Events are free and open to all women in our community. Register here.
September 20 - Dr. Mae Jemison: NASA Astronaut, First African American Woman in Space! If you don't know anything about Mae Jemison, she is an extraordinary Tech-Girl! This event is being presented by UVA Engineering at 6:30pm in Old Cabell Hall. Register here.
October 1 - Girls' Geek Day at Crozet Elementary. Join us as a volunteer in our 5th year of sparking elementary school girls interest in technology and computing by providing a fun, collaborative, hands-on environment to learn new tech skills and helping them connect to other STEM programs in the community. Registration required & coming soon.
October 11 - CBIC Tech Tour. Open to middle and high school students from participating schools. Check to see if your school is on board the tour & sign up quickly. Spots are limited for this popular regional event!
October 12 - Make It @ the Library at 4:00pm. Kickstart your creativity in this Pop-up MakerSpace. Each month will feature several projects focused on a theme. Open to ages 10-15 at the Central Library.
October 22 (deadline) - SWE @ UVA High School Visitation November 19. This is a comprehensive, hands-on program to give young women an in-depth look at the field of engineering. High school students from the state of Virginia are welcome to apply. Apply here.
Thursdays at 6:30pm - Tech-Girls Maker Club. The Maker Club is open to all women & girls who are interested in learning together how to bring our wearable tech fashion ideas to life through sewing & soldering, programming & electronics and more. Anyone under 18 must attend with parent/legal guardian. If you are interested, please complete this form.
Ongoing - Girls Excited about Math & Science (GEMS) is a before/after-school program run by UVA students with a goal to bridge the gender gap in the STEM fields by fostering positive attitudes towards math and science. GEMS is currently running at Jouett & Henley with more schools coming soon.
Ongoing - Charlottesville Open Bio Labs. You can learn about the rising tide of synthetic biology and biotechnology through their classes and workshops.
Ongoing - Playing Aces Chess is a group of teachers, parents, and interested community leaders who recognize the importance of developing critical and creative thinking skills in every student using chess. They hold chess events throughout the region.
Ongoing - Tinkersmiths Makerspace hosts a wide range of workshops that are open to a variety of ages and experience levels. Check out their latest meetups.
Virtual & Global
August-November - FIRST LEGO Leagueteams of up to 10 members, grades 4-8 are forming now to research a real-world problem and design, build and program a robot using LEGO Mindstorms. Most tournaments happen in November. VA-DC Starting Points has great resources for teams to get started.
September 1 - 2017 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computingapplications open for high school women in grades 9 thru 12. Aspirations Award recipients are chosen for their outstanding aptitude and interest in computing, proven leadership ability, academic performance, and plans for postâ€‘secondary education.
October 5 (deadline) - CyberPatriot IX Competition. Middle and high school teams compete in online cyber challenges. Top teams from state and regional competitions will earn all-expenses paid trips to Baltimore, MD for the National Finals Competition where they can earn national recognition and scholarship money.â€‹
February 6 (deadline) - ExploraVision competition for K-12 students engages the next generation in real world problem solving with a strong emphasis on STEM.
Ongoing - Mozilla Clubs, join others in your community to learn how to read, write and participate on the web. Find a club near you or start one yourself!