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Tech-Girl Monthly: December 2015

Happy Hacking & Joy to the Geeks!

Geek, Nerd, Hacker, Programmer, Engineer. Can you guess what kind of images these words conjure up? I have been asked about the Girls’ Geek Day name - why use the word geek since it seems to carry so much baggage. Now that I'm involved with creating a hackathon, I've been wondering about that label myself because there seems to be so much confusion about what a hackathon actually is. There is certainly a valid train of thought that suggests if you want to address diversity issues in tech, you need to lose some of the jargon that makes it seem inaccessible or uninviting. On the other hand, I like being a geek and hackathons can be amazing experiences. I don’t think these words are going away anytime soon and I don’t want someone to miss out on something awesome because of a stereotype, so I want to find ways to reclaim and celebrate them.

Let’s start with hackathons. First off, many people associate the word hacking with digital breaking and entering. In computer science education, hacking can actually be a great form of learning. The availability of open source software and hardware make it possible for students to get hands on with the building blocks of tech to see what makes them tick and even modify them to create something new. Mozilla’s #teachtheweb movement and MIT’s Scratch platform are all about embracing this remix culture. 

So what is a hackathon? As with most things tech, there’s not a one-size-fits-all definition. For those already in tech, hackathons are growing in popularity as they offer opportunities to learn, network, recruit and pitch ideas. Weekend hackathons for students are also on the rise from 40 intercollegiate held last year to more than 150 scheduled this year. High school hackathons are a little more rare and that's why getting the SPARK Hackathon going for our region is so exciting. It is going to be a great opportunity for high school students to get some real-world experience with creating tech as they collaborate and get connected with other students and mentors passionate about changing the world through tech.

No matter where you are or what background you have, you too can get hacking by joining the Hour of Code during the Computer Science Education Week! 

Spotlight: Suz Somersall

Each month we spotlight a woman or girl in tech who inspires us. This month we are highlighting Suz Somersall, industrial designer, jewelry maker and KiraKira founder. Suz studied visual art and gender studies at Brown University, going on to study 3D printing and manufacturing at the Rhode Island School of Design. As a result of this focus, she became inspired to share concepts of engineering and 3D printing through the lens of art and design. She is excited to be creating a curriculum to teach transferable skills, commands and concepts through KiraKira’s unique approach. 
How do you work with technology today?
We work with engineering programs such as SolidWorks, AutoDesk and Rhino through art and design lessons to teach transferable concepts and commands related to various engineering fields and careers. 3D printing these designs is a fun, inspiring way to get our students involved in the process!

Why is it important to get more girls and women interested in technology?
Currently only 7% of mechanical engineers are female! Let’s change that statistic!

Read more.

Get Involved!

Are you ready to become a mentor or sponsor a Tech-Girl workshop? Can you help us get the word out or cater an event? However you would like to get involved, we need you! 

Activities & Events

Live & Local

  • December 9 - Make It @ the Library at 4:30pm. Kickstart your creativity in this Pop-up MakerSpace that meets on the second Wednesday of the month. December features Paper Projects. Grades 6-12. Registration recommended. Call 434.979.7151 x4 to sign up.
  • December 12 - Girls' Geek Day. Stone Robinson Elementary (9am to noon). This event is open to all ages, but if you are a 3rd grader or younger, please plan on bringing one of your parents too. Registration required.
  • December 18 (deadline) - SPARK Learnathon/Hackathon. SPARK is a two-day event of learning and hacking geared toward high school students. Hosted by St. Anne’s-Belfield School on â€‹January 30 & 31, this event will get students connected to industry experts and other students who are passionate about changing the world through technology. SPARK is open to high school students throughout the region and no prior coding experience is required. Apply now!
  • December 19 - FTC Shenandoah Qualifier. Check out the teams & their robots in this exciting competition that is free & open to the public. UVA Slaughter Rec Center.
  • Ongoing - Charlottesville Women in Tech Meetup. If you are a mom of a Tech-Girl & want to connect with other female techies, please consider joining us at a monthly meetup. More info.
  • Ongoing - Girl Develop It Central VA. What better way to inspire your daughter, grand-daughter or niece to learn to code than to learn yourself. Girl Develop It Central VA offers beginner classes in Charlottesville and Harrisonburg for adults.
  • 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. More info.
  • 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

  • December 7-13 - Hour of Code. Join millions around the world during the Computer Science Education Week’s Hour of Code. They offer many great resources for teaching & learning computer science that can be accessed at any time. More info.
  • January 15 (deadline) - Congressional App Challenge. high school students in participating Congressional districts will create and submit their own original “apps” that will be judged by panels of local judges. More info.
  • February 16 (deadline) - EngineerGirl Essay Contest. The theme this year is responsible engineering. Contest is open to elementary, middle & high school students.
  • April 15 (deadline) - ProjectCSGirls is a computer science competition for middle school girls. Create something with tech that can help solve an imminent social problem. More info.
  • April 21 (deadline) - Technovation Challenge. Become a technology entrepreneur and develop a mobile app prototype that solves a real world problem in your local community. Work in teams of up to 5 girls to research, design & build a mobile app. More info.
  • Ongoing - Made with Code for classes & workshops geared toward girls.
Geek Day for Girls
Change the World - Hour of Code 2015
Try out Code Studio
2015 Tech-Girls, This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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