More than seventy girls and teachers arrived at Walton High School on August 20 to attend a free STEM workshop, GirlsFIRST Jr. This workshop was the first of what we hope is an annual community event aimed to increase awareness of STEM for middle school age girls. During this event, Walton Robotics students invited female STEM professionals from Novelis, Wahoo Fitness, The Coca-Cola Company, as well as keynote speaker, Noreen “The Science Queen” Raines, to offer advice to parents, teachers, and students on how to create educational pathways. An important aspect of the event was achieved through hands-on engineering exercises led by the students to learn the design process, work collaboratively to investigate meaningful questions, and see how STEM helps people solve problems, achieve goals, and help others.

The GirlsFIRST Jr. event was planned and directed by Selina Nie to fulfill her Gold Service Award for Girl Scouts as well as to solve a growing need and request of Walton Robotics from the community. The project was inspired by two themes —  “find your voice” and “challenge yourself intellectually and personally” from a summer camp at Brown University’s Women & Leadership program.

“Growing up, I loved math and science and was fascinated by how things work. I am extremely fortunate to have parents who are in these fields and encourage me to pursue a career in STEM. Although I have had the privilege of being exposed to STEM at a young age, I understand that many young girls are not given this opportunity. I am aware of how influential childhood experiences are on a child’s future, and because of this I am dedicated to encouraging girls into a community that I love.  Thanks so much for everyone’s enthusiasm and heartfelt support from Walton Robotics for the GirlsFIRST Jr. event! Those who donated time, funding, and merchandise clearly made a big difference in the lives of many young girls. This event could not have been a success without the dedication and hard work from our fantastic mentors, parents, and team members! “ Selina Nie, STEM Missions Student Lead

There were many topics covered during the workshop and the keynote speaker, Noreen The Science Queen, and panelists from The Coca-Cola Company, Novelis,  and Wahoo Fitness did an outstanding job of sharing their personal expertise and encouraging the girls.

One of the middle school teachers said this about the event: “It (GirlsFIRST Jr.) was a great extension from our classroom. I am amazed by the creativity in the Index Card Challenge. We are looking forward to the next event.”

The program also received great feedback from parents “Thanks, Walton Robotics! My daughter, Sofia, really enjoyed the day. She wants to be a robotics engineer, and it was good for her to see others with similar interests.”

This event would not be possible without the generous support from WIT and IBM.  Thanks to their support, we were able to provide this opportunity for the community! Special thanks to WIT executive director, Sandy Welfare being there and encouraging the GirlsFIRST Jr. Program. She noted, “You had a great event for the girls!   Kudos and well done on delivering a program to truly get middle school girls rooted in STEM. “

Selina Nie, the student STEM MIssions director was so excited to share her plan, “The GirlsFIRST Jr. Program is a new chapter for Walton Robotics. Parents, teachers, and mentors are playing an important role to help the girls pursue STEM careers.The program hopes to send a quarterly newsletters to the participants and their parents, teachers, and mentors. And we will endeavor to develop a partnership with local middle schools to provide the workshop at their schools in addition to hosting at Walton High School. I’m just trying to do the best job that I can for the girls!’

Message to parents/teachers/mentors – Nurturing curiosity

  • Encourage children to ask questions and help them discover their own solutions. The point is not whether their answers are right or wrong, but to stimulate their curiosity and help them to think in new ways.
  • Help children think more critically. On any meaningful topic, ask them why they think what they are thinking. Explore together! Discuss current events and go off on tangents.
  • Use the Internet as a resource to find interesting facts and activities about subjects that your child is curious about learning.
  • Take a trip! Museums, zoos, aquariums, parks and botanical gardens are all great places to explore science and math.
  • Take a walk together and discover science and technology in your neighborhood.
  • Have fun! If you have a positive attitude about math, science and computer science with your children, they just might develop one too.

Our Sponsors’ support

  • WIT (mywit.org): Women in Technology (WIT) passionately supports women at every stage of their STEM careers—from the classroom to the boardroom. WIT does this by telling the stories of successful women and by helping more women write their own. This takes place in a wide variety of formats—from educating middle and high school girls about the opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), to providing networking and education for professionals. With over 2,500 professionals attending their programs and events, over 500 students, and over 250 volunteers, WIT has become the largest, most active organization of its kind in the region. They even have a division specifically for girls.  Check it out: http://www.mywit.org/wit-participate/wit-girl
  • IBM: Improving education is one of IBM’s most important social commitments to the communities in which their employees and clients live and work. IBM demonstrate this commitment through a host of programs. A primary program has been their award-winning Reinventing Education initiative, through which IBM contributed more than $100 million in IBM expertise and technology to school systems around the world. IBM also supports public education through the IBM KidSmart Early Learning program (http://www.kidsmartearlylearning.org/), TryScience(http://www.tryscience.org/), and IBMentorPlace(http://ibm.mentorplace.epals.org/), plus other initiatives related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
  • Noreen the Science Queen
  • Novelis
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Wahoo Fitness
  • Walton Robotics: This event would not be possible without the generous support from Walton Robotics.  Thank for everyone’s exhaustive efforts for enabling this opportunity! The mission of the Walton Robotics Team is to help students develop personal and professional skills, inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and promote STEM as fun, rewarding, and a pathway to a brighter future. Please visit us as http://waltonrobotics.org.

Local Community Support

Thanks so much for the support from our local community.

  • Publix, Johnson Ferry Road
  • All About Signs
  • Walton High School  
  • West Paces Design

Together with our local community and businesses we are able to extend the exposure and support for girls in STEM education. If you like to be involved, support this event , Girls FIRST,  or other Walton Robotics pursuits, please contact Deborah Kauffman at: deborah.kauffman@waltonrobotics.org

Website resources

  • www.enc.org: The Eisenhower National Clearinghouse features K-12 math projects sorted by grade level, including real-world activities.
  • pumas.gsfc.nasa.gov: NASA’s Practical Uses of Math and Science (PUMAS) web site, an online journal of math and science activities written primarily by scientists and engineers, features real-world math and science activities for students in ages 5-18.
  • discovere.org: DiscoverE and its working coalition of 100+ organizations is known as one of the most effective collaborations today, recognized by corporations and engineering societies, and mentioned in two reports by the National Academy of Engineering.
  • www.firstinspires.org: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology feeling excited. FIRST LEGO league, Jr., FIRST LEGO League, FIRST TECH Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition offers everything more than robots.
  • code.org: Launched in 2013, Code.org® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. The vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. We believe computer science should be part of core curriculum, alongside other courses such as biology, chemistry or algebra.
  • Madewithcode.org: an initiative launched by Google on 19 July 2014. Google aimed to empower young women in middle and high schools with computer programming skills. Made with Code was created after Google’s own research found out that encouragement and exposure are the critical factors that would influence young females to pursue Computer Science.
  • girlswhocode.com: a nonprofit organization which aims to support and increase the number of women in computer science. The organization runs summer programs which teach computing and programming skills to high school girls.
  • Societyofwomenengineers.swe.org: For more than six decades, SWE has given women engineers a unique place and voice within the engineering industry. The organization is centered around a passion for their members’ success and continues to evolve with the challenges and opportunities reflected in today’s exciting engineering and technology specialties.

If you have any questions and suggestions, please let us know at girlsfirstjr@waltonrobotics.org. Thank you!