Arduino Woman, Girl Scouts and NASA!

Arduino Woman - Tenaya Hurts - went to the “When I Grow Up” event organized by the Girl Scouts of Northern California at NASA Ames in Mountain View. Check out her review!
It’s more important than ever to encourage all students to study their subjects diligently, alongside developing technology.  We aim to inspire girls and young women because there continues to be a gender imbalance in the companies creating new technology, as well as the day to day events and conferences.  To be qualified for the best jobs, students can gain great advantage by trying Arduino and other programming softwares early on in their education, just to have some exposure to what goes into product development.

Seventh grade gave me one of the only opportunities to take a computer class, a shiny classroom full of colorful Macs, a female computer teacher, and male student peers.  My teacher did her best to encourage me, let me spend lunch working at my computer projects if I asked, and didn’t tolerate an environment of bullying.  We learned all about creating files, writing and designing our own newsletter, and of course html code to create websites.  In June of 1996, I knew I had one of the best grades in the class, but was thrilled to receive the special award for the year.  Some of the boys thought that our teacher was biased to the one girl in the class, but I really did have an A+.  It would’ve been logical for this to propel me to seek out more classes outside of school, but I let my computer education drop after this class.

Even with this support from my mentor, I still pursued other passions, never realizing I should always learn about technology alongside my other subjects of interest.  I wish more people in my life had emphasized that my future would completely rely on computers and software within a few years!  Luckily, with my own journey to rediscover the passion for tech, I still found myself with this destiny via an Italian company that has changed my life!  It’s only right that I take efforts to inspire the next generation to take every advantage our modern times have to offer.

This past weekend, the Girl Scouts of Northern California produced “When I Grow Up” at NASA Ames in Mountain View.  This is an annual event featuring local and national companies presenting STEAM related activities and creating a dialogue with men and women in a wide range of careers.  Registration was at a maximum to allow the girl scouts to tour the expo hall and attend workshops.  Though meeting girl scouts for 5-10 minutes, Kathy and I enjoyed giving our best introduction to Arduino, answer questions, and offer potential collaborations! 


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“Arduino is a microcontroller, which is a circuit board like what you can find inside your microwave or remote control.  Buttons are programmed, push number 7, your TV changes to channel 7, press the popcorn button, your microwave cooks your popcorn for 2 minutes 30 seconds.  Arduino is a circuit board that you can make a circuit, add code, and create a product prototype.  Then change the circuit, change the code, and see a different result.  If you like what you’ve created, design a custom circuit board, solder your components together, and invent new products.” 


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My favorite way to help explain Arduino to the attendees is something like this, “Arduino is about learning hardware circuits alongside computer programming.  Connect components on a breadboard temporarily, upload some code, and see the circuit doing what you have controlled it to do.  Say we connect a motor to the Arduino, we could trigger the movement with existing Arduino Servo motor code.  Next we can add the motor to a cereal dispenser to make a pet feeder, for example.  Next still, we can upload code to feed our pet at 6am and 6pm.  Next we can add a sensor to feed the pet small snacks up to 1 time per hour.  Next still, we can put an RFID tag on our pet’s collar and that can trigger sensors on the pet feeder, which also tweet or text you when a feeding is successful!  It’s a whole progression of projects with different degrees of difficulty.  Arduino helps everyone from 4th graders on up to university students and inventors.”  

Thanks for having us, Girl Scouts and NASA!  We hope to help troops bring Arduino curriculum to their scout meetings to help girls: 1) learn about circuits 2) learn about software 3) communicate and work as a team on attainable projects 4) inspire new inventions from the emerging generation of tech savvy youth!  Help and inspire in your own way, young men and women all over the U.S. need our help to build their knowledge and confidence.


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