CLOZTALK X MAKERGIRL

by: Mary Hadley

MakerGirl is proud to now be a featured nonprofit that is a part of the CLOZTALK community. CLOZTALK is an apparel company whose mission is to help nonprofits build brands and promote causes through their clothing.

“We created CLOZTALK to help awesome causes grow their brands! It is always free for nonprofits and our designers take the logo of an awesome nonprofit, like MakerGirl, and create their webstore for apparel,” Jonny Imerman, Co-Founder of CLOZTALK said. “In repping the MakerGirl logo, people begin to see and recognize the brand and, wearers are encouraged to articulate the mission and purpose to others.”

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CLOZTALK sells 13 types of apparel. Their idea is to have people feel good while repping the causes and wear them as much as they can. They also strive to spark a conversation about nonprofits and different causes through their CLOZTALK truck. By talking face to face with people they can let more people hear about their Cause Partners.

We are so excited to team up with this amazing company because we usually only have apparel for our team members and now have this is a great opportunity for people to be able to buy MakerGirl shirts, hats hoodies and more! CLOZTALK donates 20% of the proceeds back to the causes, so by buying their apparel it will also help MakerGirl. We want to help them reach their goal of seeing a world with everyone wearing cause-based clothing. MakerGirl loves to start a  conversation about how to change the gender gap that exists in STEM jobs and we love that CLOZTALK is committed to continuing conversations about great causes.

“We also created CLOZTALK to make it cool to wear charity apparels and feel good volunteering for a charity by simply rocking its logo to a Cubs game, walking on Michigan Avenue or at the gym,” Imerman said. “Over time, charity brands will grow. We learned this lesson from experimenting at Imerman Angels for years and realized that ‘rockin’ the T’ of a charity logo in a busy city center like Chicago was the driver that got our brand out. Wear because you care and go MakerGirl!”

Be sure to check out our CLOZTALK apparel on and rep MakerGirl wherever you go. Share the link with anyone who wants to support driving change for young girls.

cloztalk.com/collections/makergirl

 

Washington DC: USA Science & Engineering Festival

by Olivia Cole

This year, MakerGirl was able to attend the 5th annual USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington DC from April 6-8. Nishi and I flew there to represent MakerGirl and teach festival-goers of all ages about the basics of 3D printing.

We had printers running at the Deloitte booth, which had a few other stations ran by their employees. There was coloring, a station to learn about coding, and other fun activities. There even was a pancake printer one of the days! Some of the volunteers worked at our station too, so they were able to learn a bit about 3D printing as well. It was great meeting the Deloitte volunteers and learning about what some of them do for a living.

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Even though I came to the festival to teach about 3D printing, there was a lot I could learn too! With over 3000 booths at the convention center, there was plenty of cool STEM related activities for kids, and sometimes adults, to participate in. There were booths that taught about health and medicine, robotics, sustainability, earth sciences, and so many other topics. There were even other booths that had different 3D printers than the Ultimakers that we were using, so those were interesting to see too.

This event was huge, so it attracted hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life. At our booth, we were able to meet hundreds of kids and their parents and introduce them to MakerGirl. It was great to see how curious people of all ages were about 3D printing. We had a lot of conversations about how the machines work, the process of designing, real life applications, and the future of 3D printing.

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I loved hearing about what kids already knew about 3D printing. Some of them already knew a lot about it, while others had never even seen a 3D printer before. It was interesting how many kids were already comfortable with 3D printers because their schools have them. This really shows how 3D printing will become more and more common for people to use in the future, not just companies. This also makes me hope that MakerGirl will be able to reach out to more schools without 3D printers, so they can learn about them by using them too.

While this event was mainly for us to teach about 3D printing, it was also the perfect place to introduce MakerGirl to a lot of people from the Washington DC area. We are working on another MakerGirl Goes Mobile trip this summer, this time on the east coast. We met a lot of people that would be interested in seeing MakerGirl in their towns, so I’m hopeful that MakerGirl will reach a lot of them over the summer.

Overall, this experience has made me more confident in my knowledge of 3D printing and excited for the future of MakerGirl. With our recent expansion to other schools in Illinois, I can see us starting academies on the east coast in the future too. A huge thanks to Ultimaker for providing us printers to use, and to Deloitte for letting us be a part of this amazing event. I hope MakerGirl will be able to attend this festival another year. It was so much fun!

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MakerGirl at the STEaM Summit

by Olivia Cole

On March 10, I had the pleasure of representing MakerGirl at the STEaM Summit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with Nishi and Lizzy.

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We had a breakaway session teaching girls (and their parents) about the basics of using TinkerCad and 3D printing, but there were presentations and booths set up on all kinds of STEAM related topics. Luckily, we arrived early so we were able to explore what the summit had to offer.

There were booths on so many different topics ranging from human anatomy to virtual reality! It was fun being able to learn a little bit at each booth, but much more rewarding to see how excited girls of all ages were to learn.

At our breakout session, we had to present in front of around 70 girls and their parents. This was a really nerve wracking moment for me, but you can tell that everyone was interested in what we had to say. My favorite part of our presentation was when we brought up rows of girls and they were able to see the printer up close. This gave them more of a chance to ask questions that they were maybe too shy to ask before, and it gave me more of a chance to talk to the girls personally.

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This is always my favorite part of any presentation or session with MakerGirl. We’re able to connect with young girls, and help them realize how STEAM could be applied to their interests. Plus they get to learn a bit about 3D printing in the process!

The STEaM Summit in Milwaukee was such a great event to attend. It was amazing to see everyone leave it more confident and excited about STEAM. Hearing from the talented women on the lunch panel, and seeing all the women running really cool booths and breakout sessions was enough to inspire anyone any age. I can only imagine what kind of impact this event had on the young girls, because I know I left inspired.

 

Thank you to the Milwaukee Business Journal for hosting us!

Facebook: @MKEBizJournal

Twitter: @MKEBizJournal

Instagram: @milwaukeebusinessjournal

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/2578079/

3 Reflections for a (very belated) 3rd Birthday Celebration!

by Elizabeth Engele

MakerGirl’s 3rd birthday was celebrated in November of 2014, and it has been one of the
greatest joys to see the organization take on a mind of its own without mine and my co-founder
Julia Haried’s day-to- day, on-campus involvement. I firmly believe that the most significant college and life-learning experiences can happen outside of the “classroom” or “office,” and I wanted to share a few ways MG has helped me since graduating so that more students will consider entrepreneurial ventures in college:

  • Mentoring – One of my greatest joys has been watching team members go from learning a role to fully taking ownership of not only their role, but taking responsibility for the entire organization’s output. I have fortunately been able to witness this on multiple levels. For example, @Lauren Wenig was our first hire to the MG team, and she went from not having experience with crafting a marketing plan to incorporating a full re-brand thanks to the help of @Arnold Worldwide. As well, I’ve seen @Nishi Gupta transform throughout the year she has been involved with MG. She came to UIUC as a reserved MBA student from India. Through team bonding and contributing as CMO of MG, she now feels she can call the UIUC campus “home,” and MG team members have told me that she has “stepped up her game” and helped lead the team to feeling more like a family.

 

  • Giving back and staying updated on my alma mater – Whenever I am connected with current UIUC students, it’s exciting to hear them say, “Oh you’re that girl that helped start MakerGirl?!,” but it’s just as fun and humbling to discuss all of the significant goals my team has accomplished since I left UIUC (including driving a #MakerGirlGoesMobile truck across the country to inspire thousands of girls and expanding to Chicago). Working on MG since graduating has enabled me to continue to give back to a place that inspired me so much while celebrate “small wins” and reflect on what I’ve learned and how I’ve changed since my university days. (Not to mention, it’s a good excuse to travel back to campus and have a cup of @Espresso Royale and a burrito from @Cracked!)

 

  • Understanding how to take a step back – One of the biggest challenges for my involvement with MG has been figuring out where I can best assist the team and use my time wisely while balancing a full-time work load and being physically away from the team. Admittedly, it was difficult in the beginning to muster up the energy to work on MG outside of work because it just felt like another time-consuming project, but I’ve learned that I’m motivated by the energy from my team, and I’ve tried to find ways to get this energy while being physically away. A few of these ways include planning a Chicago bonding trip every Fall where they visit my workplace and planning weekly chats with a new member of the team to learn how MG has helped them and what they’ve learned. Moreover, I am confident that this knowledge of understanding where I can most effectively and efficiently help “move the needle” will be helpful in the future when I have even more responsibilities to balance. As well, the detail-oriented side of me has learned so much about the value of being able to look at work from a high level and be humble enough to admit to areas where I can’t contribute.

I’m understanding more and more the value of seeing myself as “always in beta;” therefore, I welcome and am thankful for all perspectives and feedback on these topics from people who are there and who have been there. Thank you to all of those that have helped this blog post come to life, including @Ross Gordon and @Nishi Gupta. I am most grateful to my team for all that you’ve taught me about working with passion, resilience, and execution! I can’t wait to witness and play a part in what the next three years have in store for MakerGirl—including academies all over the mid-west! Let’s drive change!

MakerGirl's New Chapter

by Rachel Tham

"I wish I had that when I grew up." 

This is what I hear, repeatedly, whenever I discuss the 3D printing projects that MakerGirl does with groups of 7-10 year olds. Hearing this reminds me of how important MakerGirl's work is-- just last month, we were teaching young girls to build facial recognition wooden robots, and the day before, 3D printing designs. 

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MakerGirl's vision-- to encourage young girls in STEM-- aims for the long term, that girls, like me, need a positive support group to express their creativity. That's why we started a new chapter of MakerGirl: expanding beyond Urbana-Champaign with permanent Academies.

On Tuesday, we trained and bonded with our new MakerGirl Directors from Northwestern, DePaul, and UIC. We learned about how a MakerGirl session is managed, in addition to planning next steps for the first expanded MakerGirl Academies first session. 

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But even more central to this training session was getting to know the team-- we had a big team bonding dinner, introducing teammates from diverse discipline backgrounds, from Engineering to Business. 

For me, it was wonderful getting to know each Director from completely different backgrounds, yet all sharing the core belief with MakerGirl-- a future where each individual has the opportunity to be free from creative judgement and encouraged to learn and build with an open-mindset. 

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This one day of amazing activities was an accumulation of planned organizing and learning more about how MakerGirl can improve now and in the future. Just in January, Pree, Lizzy, and I began planning and reconsidering how we were approaching expansion, and realized that we need to continue the central MakerGirl idea that college students should be the leaders of our new academies-- that the foundation should be on college campuses, with accessible 3D printing lab spaces friendly to all ages. 

Most of all, what I learned is that planning needs to be realistic-- It's valuable to have a bigger picture goal, but it's also significant to break it down into smaller steps in order to achieve what we want-- new MakerGirl Academies and outreach to more young girls. As a result, we started with getting to know contacts already in the area; Lizzy met personally with each new Director, and I planned the organization and logistics of expanding, making sure each Director gets the resources they need. Through this process, we found improvements that MakerGirl can make within it's own non-profit structure.

With our plan, we founded two new academies at Northwestern and DePaul University in two months. 

The next step is to start a regular new Academies schedule, and support the new Directors to being independent leaders with the Academy curriculum.

This is the beginning of a new MakerGirl chapter; I'm excited to work with the new Directors, and even more determined to contribute to MakerGirl's vision that with collaborative perseverance, we can and will achieve any challenge. 

Exploring New Frontiers: MU Spacebot Session

by Shachi Solanki

Last semester, MakerGirl did something it had never done before; we collaborated with MU to host a Spacebot session. The Spacebot session was a twist on the traditional MakerGirl sessions. Instead of inspiring girls to pursue STEM through 3D printing, with the help of MU we were able to inspire them to pursue STEM through the process of building and programming their very own robots!

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The Spacebot session spanned two days. On the first day, the girls came in and built their robots. They got to take their robots home and add some finishing touches, and a week later they brought their robots back for the second day of the session. Day 2 was all about programming their robots. With the help of their parents’ phones, the girls programmed their robots to light up, dance, and speak through the MU app. The excitement on their faces was truly priceless, and as someone that programs almost everyday of her life, seeing them get excited about coding was an extremely humbling and memorable experience.

Overall, the Spacebot session was a success and we are fortunate enough to be offering another one this semester. For the girls that attend our sessions regularly, it was a refreshing change that introduced them to a new area of STEM. Artificial Intelligence is rapidly growing field, and these young girls got their first taste of it by attending our Spacebot session. A MakerGirl doesn’t only know how to 3D print – a MakerGirl can do anything she sets her mind to, including programming her own A.I.

PRINCESS AWESOME DEFIES GENDER STEREOTYPES AND EMPOWERS GIRLS

One of our team members, Rachel, introduced us to Eva St. Clair and Rebecca Melsky: co-founders of Princess Awesome. Read more about their company below to see how they're empowering MakerGirls across the country!

 

[Washington, DC]

 

How deeply ingrained are gender stereotypes?

 

“I was putting away laundry in my sons’ room one day, and without thinking I stuffed my daughter’s blue Cars Busy Dress into their dresser,” recalls Eva St. Clair, a mother of four and co-founder of Princess Awesome. “That moment highlighted for me - a person who works in the girl empowerment space - just how much influence gender stereotypes have on our daily lives and habits.”

 

It is exactly those kinds of unconscious stereotypes about colors and themes that “belong” either to boys or girls that Princess Awesome is pushing back against. Founded in 2013, Princess Awesome makes girls’ clothes with colors and themes usually found only in the boys’ department.

 

“When we first started out, we were focused on providing girls with clothing options that reflected their interests,” says Rebecca Melsky, co-founder. “My daughter only liked wearing dresses, so we started with a basic play dress that came in different patterns - dinosaurs, pirates, ninja, atoms, and pi.”

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That basic concept touched a nerve with many parents who agreed with the premise of Princess Awesome - that girls deserved a wider range of clothing options. In 2015, Princess Awesome raised more than $215,000 on Kickstarter, and has continued to experience double-digit growth since then. Over the last two years as customer feedback has come in, Melsky and St. Clair realized that their mission of empowering girls was also having an effect on adults.

 

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"I love the science and math themed clothing for girls because it helps change the stereotypes of adults,” wrote one customer. “When my daughter wears her molecular orbital dress or rocket dress, adults communicate with her differently. Instead of calling her a princess or cute, the conversation expands to rockets and then my daughter talks about the moon and Jupiter. With her molecular orbital dress, she tells them that C represents carbon and she's made out of carbon and it forms bonds. Sure, she doesn't have the best grasp of any of this, but she's 3 and learning. And adults treat her more than a cute little thing which in turn strengthens her confidence."

 

Since confidence in a subject is closely aligned to interest in a subject, that little extra boost of encouragement from conversations with adults matters for girls, who are particularly prone to lost interest in STEM subjects as they reach middle school. But breaking through norms that are deeply and often unconsciously held is difficult; even adults who want to support girls’ interests may rely on visual clues, such as how a girl is dressed, to make assumptions about her interests. Princess Awesome provides a means of expression for girls who want to combine the traditionally feminine with interests in STEM and adventure, creating a personal look that defies gender stereotypes.

 

“Our clothes tell girls that femininity and being female is acceptable in spaces where traditional gender norms are particularly strong, such as math and science,” says St. Clair. “Creating a new way of thinking about what it means to be a scientist or adventurer helps us adults too to remember to treat girls as individuals with unique interests. And maybe that will help us raise children who don’t associate blue and cars so strongly with being a boy.”

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A Semester Recap: Fall 2017

by Mary Hadley

This past semester I led two MakerGirl sessions, these included our Halloween session and the Stars and STEM session. I not only enjoyed welcoming new faces to our sessions but seeing girls so passionate about their creations they came for another session. There were three girls that came to the Stars and STEM session that were previously at our Halloween session. At the Halloween session while their 3D models were printing, they dreamt about having their own chocolate 3D printing company and who would serve in each role. They then discussed more of their plans at the Stars and STEM session. It was inspiring to see how our sessions sparked more than just creativity through prints, but to other dreams as well. These girls were inspired by something as small as a 3D print to know they can do anything, even create a small business when they all put their minds to it. I cannot wait for more sessions this upcoming semester and see what creative minds walk through our doors!

Reflections from a New MakerGirl

Maryam Siddique is a new member on our MakerGirl campus team this year. Below are some thoughts from her first session.

 

I think the best way to show when I love MakerGirl is through an anecdote from my first session. During some sessions, we have surveys that we ask the girls to take before and after the lesson. It helps us to figure out how to improve our lesson plans and really inspire the girls to pursue careers in STEM. One question on the survey asks the girls "what they want to be when they grow up." I remember one girl calling me over and asking how to spell flight attendant.

During the session, we talked about space and constellations. All the girls’ 3D designed and printed a space related object. After our MakerGirl session, the same little girl called me over. I figured she needed help spelling flight attendant again however, instead she asked me “What is someone that works with technology?” I was so surprised but also really excited that this girl had loved our 3D printing session so much! I told her there were many jobs that worked with technology like engineers, scientists, etc. and when she was older she could pick something specific within the technology field. Working with all the girls who attend our sessions is amazing but, specifically that is a moment I will never forget. I am so glad I joined MakerGirl this semester.

 

Toys That Inspire

By Stephanie Hein

The gender gap in the field of engineering is no secret. But just how large is it? According to the National Science Foundation, women represent a mere 13% of the engineering workforce. The field also has a shockingly low retention rate for female engineers, leading to recent efforts to emphasize STEM in K-12 settings.

Across the K-12 grades, NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) math and science scores do not differ drastically between boys and girls. In addition, a study by the Girl Scouts of America found that a majority of girls are interested in STEM subjects and their associated skills. So with similar test scores and high interest levels, why does the gender gap in engineering still persist? The short answer: STEM subjects and activities are oftentimes not designed to engage girls in meaningful and relatable ways, leaving them feeling alienated and discouraged.

Toys might not be the first solution that comes to mind to engage girls in engineering, however, there are a variety of toys on the market (often created by female engineers!) that are designed to do just that. Check out a few of my favorites below.

Blink Blink Paper Circuits

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Created by aerospace engineer Nicole Messier and designer Alex Tosti, Blink Blink kits add an engineering element to traditional arts and crafts projects. The Paper Circuit Kit comes with origami paper, LED lights, copper tape, and instructions to guide budding engineers through the project, with additional project ideas available on the Blink Blink website. In addition to the Paper Circuit Kit, the Wearable Tech Kits allow sewable circuits to be added to a variety of fashion items such as scarves, hats, and bags.

 

Build & Imagine

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Build & Imagine Founder Laurie Peterson noticed a lack of building toys for girls, so she created Build & Imagine kits, which are a combination of building blocks, dollhouses and dress-up. Each kit comes with wooden magnetic building panels and wooden dolls, which connect to form 3D storyboards reminiscent of dollhouses. The kits emphasize engineering skills such as spatial reasoning and problem solving while also encouraging creativity.

 

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

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In The Most Magnificent Thing, Ashley Spires delivers a story of a young inventor who sets out to make the most magnificent thing but as she builds she keeps trying and failing to create her perfect invention. Sprinkled with engineering-related vocabulary, this book conveys the importance of perseverance, creativity, and the ability to learn from mistakes, dispositions that are essential for any young engineer to learn.