submitted by Mary Glendening,
director at the Middletown Free Library
Thirty one middle school girls joined us at the Middletown Free Library the week of August 15th for the 2016 TechniGals STEAM Camp. TechniGals began in August 2015 as an ILEAD USA project in partnership with Penn State Brandywine. Last summer’s camp saw 24 girls join us at the library for a week of fun projects and workshops including e-textiles, 3D printing, ice cream making and more.
This year’s project focused on game design with the girls working on their own choose your own adventure style games starting with pen and paper and then moving their creations online using a program called Twine. The week long project was taught by Mila Pokorny. Mila is a professional artist and designer who has been making artwork for games for 6+ years. She has been teaching for 4 years, and is currently an adjunct professor at Moore College of Art and Design. Her company DeerFox Games focuses on games for young girls and families. Mila was the perfect fit for our camp and a fantastic teacher.
Besides the week long game project, the girls had fun exploring a variety of other hands-on activities. The week kicked off with a variety of STEM challenges which served as the perfect ice breaker for the campers. On Tuesday, our sponsor Nielsen Kellerman, joined us and led a weather reading activity using the meters that are produced in nearby Boothwyn. On Wednesday the girls got hands-on with electronics and circuitry through Chibitronics light-up cards and a learn to solder station. Thursday was time to get in the Olympic spirit using littleBits to bring our favorite Olympic Games, personalities and icons to life. The week ended by going low tech and making paper using a variety of natural and recycled materials.
Besides the fun projects, the girls also had the opportunity to meet and talk with women working in a variety of STEAM fields. Each day we had visitors, both in-person and via Skype, to talk with the girls and answer their questions about their professions and what it’s like to be a woman in an often male dominated field. Guests for the week were:
- Lorraine Bradshaw, Architect
- Alix James & Madeline Delaney, Nielsen Kellerman (program sponsor)
- Katie Salen Tekinbas, Video Game Designer with Connected Camps
- Martha Simelaro, Electrical Engineer
- Kristin Salomon, Electric Engineer with littleBits
- Melissa Smithson, Neuroscientist and representative with Science Cheerleader
- Rhonda Kinard, Software Assurance
The week ended with a showcase. The girls got to show off their games as well as the other projects they created to their families and friends. Everyone had a great time seeing what the TechniGirls program is all about and we are excited to continue the program by giving girls in the community an opportunity to have fun with STEAM!