Students STEM out into the Community

By Brigid Clifford, News Editor

Holly Koerwer (‘17), Alessandra Sanfratello (‘17) and Courtney Vadon (‘18) recently shared their STEM knowledge and experience with young girls who are looking to learn more about engineering and computer science. As part of a fellowship with the organization She++, Vadon arranged for a local Girl Scout troop to come to the school and learn the basics of coding, Sanfratello helped eighth grade girls program their own dance video game and Koerwer hosted an event to assemble 3D-printed prosthetic hands.

She++ is a fellowship program that encourages young women to promote STEM education within their local communities. A contest is held each year in which high school girls submit an application and perform a project or initiative with the hope of winning an educational trip to Silicon Valley.

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Holly K. instructs a building team of middle school girls on how to assemble the Phoenix Hand.
Photo by Melissa Whelan

Koerwer, a She++ veteran who received the award and a visit to Silicon Valley two years ago , continued to share her passion with a Hand-a-Thon event on Dec. 10. After being exposed to and becoming an official volunteer foreNABLE the Future, she wanted to host an event to produce several 3D-printed prosthetic hands to be donated to the organization.

More than 65 girls came to assemble the hands. “I was surprised with how well the students took to the challenge of building the hands. It was a good bonding experience and really collaborative. They seemed to be really excited by how easy it was to help someone out by building a hand like that,” Koerwer said.

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Courtney V. leads Girl Scouts in a coding lesson as a part of her She++ Fellowship Initiative. Photo courtesy of Trinity Hall

Vadon, who has a strong interest in computer science, was inspired to explore the She++ opportunity after seeing fellow Trinity Hall students’ involvement. On Jan. 13 and Jan. 27, she hosted a local second-grade Girl Scout troop to teach them the basic fundamentals of coding for her initiative. They explored algorithms and applied their knowledge to guide the Sphero robots through a maze.

“I asked the girls before the class if they had heard of coding, and all of them said no. But at the end of the class when I asked them what they had learned, it made me feel really proud that I was able to teach them so much and that I was able to introduce them to computer science,” Vadon said.

Sanfratello hosted the “Make and Shake” workshop on Jan. 19 with 28 local eighth grade

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Alessandra S. guides local eighth grade girls in using the Makey Makey kits through some basic apps during her “Make and Shake” workshop at Trinity Hall on Jan. 19.
Photo by Melissa Whelan

girls who explored Makey Makey kits, which give a basic engineering and computer science introduction to children. She gave the girls some activities to explore the kits and then dove into the main event: designing and programming a dance video game.

“I really liked being able to expose [computer science] to other girls. It was interesting to be on the other end and teaching to other girls instead of being taught,” Sanfratello said.

All of the student-led events received positive feedback. “The girls were very excited, enthusiastic and willing to participate, and the Trinity [Hall] girls [who helped at the workshops] were great role models as well.” said Vadon.

There are hopes for similar projects to be held in the future, and these three students encourage their fellow classmates to consider taking advantage of the opportunities presented by She++.

“Figure out how your passion with technology can help others, and that’s how you’ll make the best project possible,” said Koerwer.

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