A little over a month ago we received word that Girl Scout Troop 73265 wanted to visit SparkFun and do some sort of interactive project with us! We jumped on board! Introducing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education to young women is one of the largest goals in our department. When opportunities like this arise we make sure to act!
On Wednesday the Girl Scouts ventured over to SparkFun for a three hour workshop dedicated to e-textiles and making elaborate costume masks. At one point about half way through the class it was deafeningly silent that you could hear a pin drop! The girls were so focused on their projects and diligently sewing circuits into their masks to make them light up that not a peep was made! By the end of class each and every student had a functioning mask that they made on their own. We were surrounded by creativity as the girls fancied up their masks with gems, feathers and brilliant colors of puffy paints!
Sharing knowledge and creating a casual, fun and interactive learning environment helps to motivate our youth and engage them in fields of study that have been stigmatized as being too tough or intimidating. When I was growing up I rarely received the encouragement and motivation in school to excel in science and math. Years later I realized what I had been missing, and now, at the ripe age of 35, I work at a place that allows me to learn and creatively shine in STEM education. It's never too late! Now that SparkFun's provided these opportunities for me I want to share them with the rest of the community. I strive to discover ways of helping our youth learn about electronics and the most effective ways to teach this material. Our department is highly focused on feedback from our audience. We want to change the stereotypical ridged environment and symbolize something completely new and refreshing! SparkFun Education is pushing forward through the barriers to make this happen! Sharing our skills and knowledge through open sourced materials, classes and workshops is what we do.
Our experience with the Girl Scouts was invaluable, and we hope the workshop sparked interest in STEM education. Our plan is to move forward with the Girl Scouts of America and slowly but surely bring this kind of curriculum into their community.