DNA Extraction, Computer Programming + UX Design Highlight 2015 GTCD
On Friday, the Iowa Tech Chicks held its 3rd annual Girls Tech Career Day. I’ve been a part of this event, photographing it each time and this third time around was quite incredible. We had some award funding and more sponsors (Neumann Monson Architects was also a sponsor but not included on this year’s shirts due to a late contribution). We also hosted more girls this year – 39 girls from Grades 5-8.
In addition, we had a new venue as our home base, the brand new Kirkwood Regional Center at The University of Iowa. The day began with registration. After the girls signed in, they had a chance to make name tags that lit up.
In the meantime, Project Lead the Way students Abigail and Brooke from Iowa City West High School were playing around with robots, which they showed the girls how to control after they got their name tags.
Before the day got underway, organizer Laura Christenson had the girls do an icebreaker. So there was a lot of splitting into groups based on what colors, foods and activities the girls like… and it was a fun way for the participants to introduce themselves and make new friends.
Co-organizer Deb Walton then split the girls into two groups. One group started the day learning how to tear apart a computer, a session we’ve had as part of the event all three years and this year taught once again by Kristine Arens of SiloTree Coaching and Consulting.
The second group started their day learning about programming thanks to Tricia Ball, a software engineer with Continuity.
Tricia taught the girls about programming using a Sphero, controlling the object through coding from an iPad. They divided into groups and experimented directing the ball with simple instructions from one point to another, to more elaborate obstacle courses.
The girls’ next activity – done as a full group – involved packaging a Pringle to the point you’ll never look at a potato chip the same way again. At least I won’t. This activity led by Abigail and Brooke, challenged the girls to package a single Pringle so the contraption could withstand three secret tests (a fall, heavy weight and be submerged underwater). Teams of girls were given a large strip of masking tape and some sheets of paper.
One team really got into the spirit of this activity, even going so far as signing their homemade Pringle package.
The Abigail and Brooke tested each team’s package.
There were a few Pringle packages that didn’t survive, so the girls got a second chance now that they knew the challenges.
Finding out if the new strategies worked…
… followed by the excitement of an intact Pringle!
After lunch, the girls learned about UX Design, or User Experience Design, from Katelyn Lensch and her colleagues at Connect Five. The girls were charged with developing a purse to fit different pre-assigned personas. It was an activity involving research in the form of the girls asking questions to a ConnectFive staff member as well as collaboration on a concept, and, finally, constructing the design.
The girls took a short bus ride (thank you ICCSD!) to Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) to learn about how DNA can influence a person’s physical features and got the experience of extracting DNA from a strawberry.
The girls extracted a solution that would help separate the DNA from the fruit and inserted it with the crushed strawberry.
The plastic bag is cut, and the strawberry pours into the test tube through the funnel. After a while, the foamy bit – the DNA – rises to the top.
The girls even got to take a sample of the DNA they extracted home with them in a tiny test tube!
Here’s our girls and most of our volunteers this year!
More about Girls Tech Career Day
At tech day, ‘Girls can do anything they put their minds to’ – Holly Hines, Iowa City Press-Citizen
Girls Tech Career Day is held each fall between first and second trimesters for the Iowa City Community School District.