Creative Technologies: Building Mind and Heart
An innovative combination of hands-on technical and practical learning and social-emotional support, DIY Girls' Creative Technologies program inspires girls' interest in STEM learning and careers while boosting their self-confidence and skill set. Within a supportive community of peers and mentors, girls gain essential 21st Century knowledge and skills and the self-reliance that enable them to succeed in the future they choose to create.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
K-12 STEAM Education
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
San Fernando Valley
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
For more than a decade, DIY Girls' focus has been on closing two persistent and related gaps: the divide between boys and girls' interest in science and technology and subsequent chasm between men and women's success in STEM careers. Just 15% of 4th to 8th girls show interest in STEM. Women represent only 28% of employed scientists and engineers in the U.S., and just 2% are Latinas, who we overwhelmingly serve. During our first decade, which led into the pandemic, this focus meant we prioritized engaging girls in STEM projects and learning, with the goal of capturing their interest and showing them that they can be successful in fields where they might not normally be directed. This work continues, but since the pandemic we have seen that what girls need to succeed has evolved dramatically. These long-standing gaps in opportunity and support are now intensified by girls' mental health challenges and their lack of connection and community, which we now also are working to address.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
Our Creative Technologies STEM education programs have been designed by women in STEM fields who share the same lived experiences as our participants. They integrate engagement and capacity building, helping girls master technical and practical skills as they learn about educational and career opportunities, while simultaneously fostering self-confidence, initiative and curiosity within a community of peers, instructors and mentors. This combination of tech and heart drives our impact and success and includes: Creative Electronics, a 10-week after-school program for 210, 5th grade girls held at partnering elementary schools that sparks curiosity and exploration with technology by providing experiences that promote the development of technical skills, expression of creativity and self-confidence. Girls participate in 2-hour sessions once per week. Creative Engineering, a 10-week after-school program for 144, 6th - 8th grade girls held at partnering middle schools that combines the art of painting with the art of making and coding, learning about an overarching STEM-based theme that changes annually, themes such as biomes, endangered species, green agriculture, and space. Girls participate in 2-hour sessions once per week. The newest element to these programs is the additional social-emotional learning within a supportive community of girls who learn together, collaborate on projects and believe they can be successful, even if they do not get something right the first time.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
The continued success of DIY Girls programming will mean a more equitable LA County, one where at least as many girls as boys take STEM classes and where the next generations of women are succeeding in the STEM careers they have been inspired to pursue. We define the more immediate success of our programs by how well we increase girls' continued interest in STEM, support their problem solving and technical skills and foster their self-confidence - changes we track and assess consistently to ensure our programs are meeting the changing needs and interests of the girls we serve. As DIY Girls moves into our second decade and implements a new strategic plan, a key element of our ongoing success involves increasing our impact by expanding our programs in measured, deliberate steps through partnerships with additional schools in the county.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
We closely measure participants' growth and our programmatic outcomes through pre/post surveys of all participants. Benchmarks are: 80% will want to participate in more engineering and technology activities 80% will feel comfortable asking for help to solve a problem they are working on 80% will believe they can be successful at a STEM-related job/career 80% will believe that when they do not get something right the first time, they will keep trying In 2021-22, we achieved the following outcomes for our Creative Technologies program: 76% want to participate in more engineering and technology activities; 71% feel comfortable asking for help to solve a problem they are working on; 68% believe they can be successful at a STEM-related job/career; 78% believe that when they do not get something right the first time, they will keep trying.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 354
Indirect Impact: 180