MakerGirl, a non-profit organization that uses 3D printing to teach young girls, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills, has recently announced plans for expansion.
Originally, MakerGirl only offered its 3D printing courses at the University of Illinois, but has since expanded to other academies, such as Northwestern University. Additionally, MakerGirl is entering the final steps for a partnership with DePaul University, with plans to take the nonprofit to universities in the Milwaukee area and beyond.
“I definitely think it’s important to help girls in those areas,” said MakerGirl co-founder, Elizabeth Engele. “Creative thinking can be combined with a STEM degree. It is one of the most powerful combinations to build, but I grew up thinking that a STEM profession excluded being creative.”
Bringing girls to 3D printing and STEM
MakerGirl was founded in 2014 by Gies College of Business students, Elizabeth Engele & Julia Haried, allowing college students to teach 7-10 year old girls STEM skills. The organization was founded with the idea of using 3D printing technology to educate and encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM fields.
According to MakerGirl’s mission statement “All of our sessions inspire girls to be creative and technical through 3D printing.” By using 3D printing technology, students are able to practice designing and printing objects, while learning about women leaders in STEM and innovative companies.
The MakerGirl’s expansion of its services to other universities will allow more girls to improve their 3D printing skills and possibly start a career path in STEM. The company has stated they want to teach at least 10,000 girls by 2023, particularly those from underrepresented and rural communities. Additionally the non-profit has grown in size after it successfully raised $47,000 in funding via Kickstarter.
In the past, the organization has run several different campaigns and activities to better educate young girls, such as the #MakerGirlGoesMobile campaign.
The campaign had a MakerGirl branded truck, equipped with Ultimaker 3D printers, travel through the midwest to offer educational sessions for young girls who were unfamiliar with 3D printing. When the campaign ended, the MakerGirl truck had traveled more than 10,000 miles and hosted 61 sessions across 17 states.
Other companies and organizations have also started to offer educational lessons for 3D printing, such as PrintLab International, a UK based 3D printing reseller. Earlier this year, the company launched PrintLab Classroom, an online portal featuring 3D printing, workbooks, tutorials and teacher training guides, that aims to future STEM education for students.
In 2015, 3D printer manufacturer, MakerBot, launched the MakerBot starter Lab, which provided libraries and school with 3D printers, supplies, and software for educational purposes. Similarly, Project Magnify, a Los Angeles based non-profit initiative, offers after-school workshops for 3D printing to provide less privileged students with STEM education.
Speaking on the success of MakerGirl, second co-founder Julia Haried comments, “MakerGirl brings me the greatest joy when I see young girls get excited about science, technology, engineering and math, and literally shift who they perceive themselves to be in the world.”
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Featured image is MakerGirl teaching STEM. Photo via MakerGirl