A senior at Lakeville South High School has started an after-school STEM for Girls club for Lakeview Elementary students. Nicole Chavez created this club to challenge the girls in critical thinking and team building while engaging in STEM projects. It’s also Chavez’s capstone project for her STEM Academy accreditation.
Chavez has designed a six-week experience for the club, which will meet after school every Thursday through March 12. The Lakeview PTO covered the cost of transportation to bus 25 fourth and fifth grade girls over to Lakeville South. On first day of the club, held February 6, the girls were given a tour of Lakeville South’s Innovation Center. Their first hands-on experience was steering and driving small ball-like robots called Spheros. The girls controlled the rolling robots using iPads.
In the weeks ahead, the girls will work with Makey Makey, an electronic tool that uses computer programming to play games like Tetris. The girls will also learn to make a 3D bust of themselves using CAD programs and the MakerBot 3D printers.
“What made me want to start a club like this is the lack of women in STEM-related fields. As one of three girls in my Capstone class this past semester, I was determined to make a change for our future generation of girls in the Lakeville community,” explained Chavez. “I had the opportunity to join a girls coding club when I was in 8th grade, which is what jump-started my passion for STEM. I believe if the girls in our community had the same opportunity, they would enjoy the wonders that STEM offers.”
Chavez is getting some help with STEM for Girls from several junior and senior student volunteers who are passionate about getting more girls involved in STEM-based careers. Chavez is also getting guidance from Lakeview 5th grade teacher, Brianna Bird.
“It’s been a privilege to mentor Nicole and support her ambition to implement this unique opportunity,” said Bird. “She’s done a great job communicating with district leaders and it’s exciting to witness the impact of her club on Lakeview’s fourth and fifth grade girls.”
After the six-week program with the elementary students is complete, Chavez plans to bring 25 sixth through eighth graders from McGuire Middle School over to Lakeville South for another six-week Girls in STEM club. Those students will use CAD programs and laser engravers to create living-hinge boxes.