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Program Encourages Female Students to Become STEM Leaders

The Garrison Forest School for girls in Maryland has created an immersive MIT Media Lab-created course for students in fourth and fifth grade.The course is one week long and will teach students to combine circuitry and Arduino programming to build an interactive robot monster. 

“To prepare for the week, students have been practicing basic sewing techniques and learning how to work with GUI programs such as Scratch [a program for developing interactive stories, games and animations] and Blockly [an educational resource for teaching programming],” reports T.H.E. Journal. “Their teachers received a day of training, working through the steps of the project the students will undertake, from i2Learning."

"[The prep program] was intense, exciting and at times frustrating, as we pushed ourselves in skills which for many of us were completely new," Christine Shiver, the digital learning specialist at Garrison Forest School, said in the article.

Students will create a bookmark light in order to grasp how circuits work. They’ll then begin creating interactive monsters using felt, LEDs, speakers and a LilyPad Protoboard, an e-textile technology developed for prototyping .

"The girls have an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in a project-based learning experience," Renee Hawkins, the director of libraries and instructional technology at Garrison Forest School,said in the article. "This means that they'll practice patience, perseverance, self-directedness, collaboration, and teamwork."

This program is one of many STEM initiatives at Garrison Forest School. Other programs include an “Imagineering” program for K-5 students and a research partnership with John Hopkins University and Women in Science and Engineering (WSE).

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By Samantha DiMauro, Education World Contributor

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