This project was formed to empower girls through education about STEM related topics (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The team decided to take on a project that would benefit the children after utilizing the priority ranking tool from the PACA guidebook. The children were divided into groups of two (one consisting of boys and one of girls) and were asked to make a list of the 10 most important needs and improvements they or the center needed. The two groups were then joined together, presented their results, and a list of the 10 most important needs were delivered. After a discussion about what is most plausible, beneficial, and necessary, a list of 5 needs were compiled. The team, expecting the results to consist of requests for more toys, fun activities, parties, and vacations, we were pleasantly surprised and humbled by the children’s desire to further their education in specific, about math and technology. The girls from the center voiced concern over the amount of extracurricular clubs available to girls and their interest in learning about math as they feel they are not adequately understanding math concepts. Additionally, we surveyed the girls and boys and it was reported that they felt as though they did not have enough knowledge or experience with technology and did not have adequate access to after school activities. This further motivated our team to create a program that would give girls in the community access to a STEM after school program. Through a STEM club, extra math sessions for the children at the community group, and a volunteering and mentoring program we will improve the children's capacity and mobilize community members to create a sustainable change for the community.
This program will be sustainable as we will be instructing community members to continue this program for years to come. Through the instruction of female staff members, mentors and volunteers, basic computer skills for staff and community members will be adequately developed. Additionally, through expanding our volunteering program we will have human resources that will increase the center's capacity and sustain the skills and abilities that were initially improved within the 12 months of this project. The math instructors involvement in this project will enable the community group to educate the team on efficient teaching methods, and skills that will last when this project ends. The computers that will be purchased will be equipment that can be utilized for many years after this project and will allow the community group to improve its efficiency, because the staff is currently documenting files by hand.