A Year of Growth for Tech Savvy
What do ice cream, 3-D printing, and robotics have in common? Each is the subject of one of the fun, interactive workshops at Tech Savvy, a daylong event for middle school girls and their parents.
Designed to excite sixth through eighth grade girls and their parents about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, Tech Savvy was founded by the AAUW Buffalo (NY) Branch in 2006. Based on the success and growth of the program at the University of Buffalo, AAUW chose to implement the conference nationwide and continue encouraging the next generation of STEM leaders.
In 2015, the National Tech Savvy Pilot Program hosted conferences at 17 sites, serving approximately 1,750 girls. Presented at local college campuses across the country, the conference day begins with hands-on workshops that highlight math and science fields. The second half of the day focuses on savvy skills, like budgeting, critical thinking, and public speaking, that are important not only in STEM careers but also in everyday life.
It Starts at Home
AAUW’s research about girls’ interest in STEM careers shows that from day one girls need to be exposed to strong role models, especially at home. Among the recommendations in AAUW’s latest report Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing is for parents to expose their children, especially their daughters, to STEM fields at an early age. This year, Tech Savvy served 730 parents, teaching them about the STEM education and career pathways available to their daughters and how to encourage them to pursue math and science in school and play.
Collaborations for Expansion
The AAUW branches or states selected to host conferences each receive a grant from AAUW to implement Tech Savvy, but financial support from corporate sponsors has also enabled the program to thrive. With a grant from the Alcoa Foundation, AAUW expanded to a new site in Ohio where Alcoa has operations. At Stark State College in North Canton, Ohio, local Alcoa employees spoke to attendees and led the workshop Tabling the Contents, which taught girls to design a table made from paper that can support the weight of a heavy book.
This October, with BAE Systems’ support, AAUW will bring Tech Savvy to an estimated 150 middle school girls and 75 parents/guardians in Northern Virginia at the first Tech Savvy conference to take place in the Washington, D.C., region. Through these collaborations, AAUW can ignite STEM curiosity and passion in girls and share with parents their daughters’ potential in a STEM career path.
At Tech Savvy, parents learn how to inspire their daughters to pursue interests in STEM fields.
Tech Savvy continues to spread across the country, but it got its start in Buffalo, New York.
AAUW’s latest research report explains what we all can do to make engineering and computing fields open to and desirable for everyone.