Oct 17, 2017 | By Tess

As 3D design and additive manufacturing become an increasingly important aspect of most manufacturing-based industries, it is becoming more and more apparent that these subjects should be taught in schools, to give younger generations a leg-up for the future job market. For girls especially, learning about STEM subjects and making them accessible at a young age can help break down barriers they might feel of face later in their lives—when entering the still male-dominated technology sector, for instance.

It is this reality that has inspired “Girls Who Code,” a U.S.-wide nonprofit aimed at teaching students (girls especially) the basics of coding, digital design, 3D printing, and more. Recently, through a collaboration with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District, Girls Who Code hosted a workshop in which students were invited to learn about 3D modeling and printing.

The event was held on October 10 and saw 29 students from Livermore and Granada high schools participate. As part of the event, the students were taught about how 3D printing is being used by researchers at LLNL, as well as the basics of computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing.

As part of the workshop, the students (mostly female but also some male) were tasked with designing and customizing their own cellphone speaker amplifiers using CAD programs. In the end, four lucky students (drawn from a raffle) were selected to have their designs 3D printed.

"I thought the event was really informative," said Faith Nordvik, a senior at Livermore High and one of the raffle winners. "I've never done anything like it before, but it was easy to follow and easy to do. I appreciate the opportunity to learn more about it. The more I try it, the more interested I become."

The aim of the event was to generate interest among students—especially females—for STEM education. Girls Who Code ultimately hopes it will help lessen the gender gap that exists in STEM-based careers.

As Marcey Kelley, LLNL’s Computation Workforce Manager, explained: “Women are underrepresented in the STEM field… We know that if you don't get girls engaged by the time they're in junior high, they typically don't go into STEM-related fields. It's important to get them exposed so they're not afraid of it."

In addition to the event held on October 10, the LLNL collaborates with Girls Who Code to teach basic coding principles and computer science fundamentals to different schools in the region. The lab has supplied 23 volunteer researchers who teach lessons once a week at a total of seven different schools, including high schools and middle schools.

The goal through the lessons is to introduce a new coding skill every week so that, by the end of the 10-week program, the students will be equipped to create their own 3D printing project.

“Most of the students in this program have not done 3D printing, so this is opening up a whole new area for them," said Regina Brinker, the district’s STEM coordinator. "To have the expertise of the Lab introduce them to 3D printing and show them the really high-end capabilities that happen at the Lab is really a nice connection. Giving them that opportunity to practice engineering and design, that by itself is what makes a difference and what gets the kids excited.”



Posted in 3D Printing Events



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