Young Girls Choose Extra 'School Day' For STEM And Art

Jun 27, 2016

On the first day of summer, instead of playing outside, a group of eleven 7-to-10-year-old girls got to go back to class for a morning.

MakerGirl, a group dedicated to getting young girls interested in Science and Technology, hosted an event at the Pearl City Elementary School in Stephenson County. The girls got to design their own key chain on a computer and watch it come to life on a 3D Printer. Tristen Carey, one of the participants, describes her favorite part of the event, “how science can be made into artwork”

Each participant in the MakerGirl class designs a keychain on a computer and -- voila! -- creates it on a 3D printer.
Credit Nicole Shenberger/WNIJ

Parents got the choice of dropping their daughters off or watching them create their own designs and make new friends while doing so. Chris Carey, Tristen’s father, stayed for the entire event, “Yeah, I guess though having her just learn something like this, something that could change the future.”

MakerGirl got its start in 2014 when four women decided to begin a social entrepreneurship. They started the group to help inspire young girls to get interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. MakerGirl’s vision is “girls live and dream as unstoppable forces that say yes to the challenges of the future which leads to gender equality in all workplaces”

After the project’s initial successes, the group is now up to 22 members and 6 people on the board of advisors. Kendall Furbee is MakerGirl’s internal marking manager. She shares why she joined the group, “Well, I’m an engineer, so I’ve personally experienced some stereotypes and discrimination as a woman in STEM, so that’s what really made me want to get involved.”

Kendall and two other team members, Premika Pandian and Stephanie Hein, are now touring the country for MakerGirl, showing girls just what STEM and 3D printing are all about. The 3D printers that the MakerGirl country tour is using go for about $3,000 each.

Kendall Furbee, left, of Maker Girl, and Jackie DeBatista, of the University Extension

Jackie De Batista, the University of Illinois Extension Educator in Stephenson County, also assisted with the Pearl City visit, “It’s something that they’ll definitely use and need to know as they grow and we would like them to consider science and technology as a career field and the earlier that you can hook them on the benefits and the interests and how wonderful science and technology is the better.”

Just like Jackie, Kendall and the other members who are helping out with the countrywide tour have high hopes for the girls who are participating in the events. “We hope that even if they don’t get involved in STEM, this encourages them to say “yes” to the challenges of the future and just know that they can do anything they want.”

MakerGirl’s next stop on the tour is Colorado. The group has already toured through most of Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska. Their road map shows plans for about 10 more states before it’s over.