DIY Girls InvenTeam gets the recognition they deserve!

DIY Girls InvenTeam gets the recognition they deserve!

Thanks to the generous donation of over 200 people, we've exceeded our $15,000 goal on GoFundMe! At MIT, we'll be shining a spotlight on our innovative contribution to helping the homeless population of Los Angeles. The girls will get the once in a lifetime opportunity to show how their innovative use of technology and engineering can make an impact on the homeless population. 

The team and their invention has been featured by various media outlets! Please check out the stories written about our team below:

This media attention sheds a light on the homelessness issue in Los Angeles, particularly in the San Fernando Valley. This also brings attention to the need to have programs like DIY Girls that encourage young people to come up with solutions to problems they see in their community. 

Women’s Leadership Council of PPG are committed volunteers for DIY Girls

“The goals of DIY Girls align well with what we believe in and strive to achieve as members of the WLC.
— Catherine Bartles, PPG WLC

The Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) of PPG is dedicated to creating an environment that attracts, retains and advances women in the workplace. PPG’s WLC will be volunteering at San Fernando Institute for Applied Media during DIY Girls’ Latina Hour of Code. DIY Girls, in partnership with The Eva Longoria Foundation and Google LA, will provide hands-on coding workshops to 200 girls in underserved communities in Los Angeles during the 2016 Week of Code in December 2016. The workshops shall serve as an opportunity to expose young Latinas to computer science concepts, explore potential career opportunities, and encourage them to continue doing STEM-related activities following the workshop.

Professional women engineers from PPG, Northrop Grumman, and the Society of Women Engineers have committed to sponsoring a school and will be trained to deliver workshops. These professionals will serve as role models and mentors to the young girls, as research shows that students who have mentors and encouragement are more likely to continue in STEM education; this is especially important for underrepresented minorities and women.

Over the summer, members of the WLC’s West chapter did their part to advance the DIY Girls mission by volunteering at the “Summer Showcase” of DIY Girls in Pacoima, California. The Summer Showcase celebrated the success of girls in fourth through eighth grades on their summer projects in woodworking, electronics and art made with code. PPG volunteers – who came from the company’s aerospace and architectural coatings sites in southern California and Utah – assisted with the set-up and clean-up of display areas, as well helped to register the participants and led an interactive workshop.

“The goals of DIY Girls align well with what we believe in and strive to achieve as members of the WLC,” said Catherine Bartles, a process applications development engineer at the aerospace research and technology site in Burbank, California. “It’s important to encourage all children as early as possible in their studies to pursue science and technology-related fields. When we heard about the Summer Showcase, we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get into our local community and begin making meaningful relationships with the girls who are working today to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

 

DIY Girls beta-testers for Two Bit Circus

Two Bit Circus brought our girls into their workshop this October and reminded us all that technology really can be the stuff of cartoonish adventure. DIY Girls from GALS, the Girls Athletic Leadership Schools, spent a day as game beta testers for Two Bit Circus, an organization that’s always “blurring the lines between technology and spectacle”.

Spending hours in a game lab full of large interactive consoles, virtual reality, and brightly colored lights may seem like a day at the arcade, but our girls kept their thinking caps on. In between bouts of  exploring virtual outer-space, the girls were gathering important intel for the game development staff.  The girls impressed the game designers and engineers during lunch with their thoughtful feedback, emphasizing the importance of resolving game bugs and fostering team-building mechanics. The girls even left staff a bit speechless with deep questions their personal journeys to Two Bit Circus.

The day ended with a tour into Two Bit’s workshop lot of wood, steel, re-purposed go-carts, and virtual reality prototypes. Floored by all the potential for creativity, the girls were hesitant to leave. The girls left eager to work on their projects at their after-school DIY Girls Club, taking the zany and creative message of Two Bit Circus back to their own work.

A big thank-you to Hera and Ryan of Two Bit Circus, the GALS team, and long time DIY Girls supporter, Councilwoman Nury Martinez, for making this event happen for the girls!

 

DIY Girls Awarded Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Grant

DIY Girls is proud to announce that, in partnership with San Fernando High School, has been awarded the Lemelson-MIT Grant. We are one of 15 InvenTeams of high school students nationwide that will each receive up to $10,000 in grant funding to solve real-world problems through invention. As part of the Grant, the DIY Girls InvenTeam will have the opportunity to travel to MIT for EurekaFest in June 2017 to present their work.

Read what girls are saying about what drives them to act:

As adolescents, we never thought we could take action to solve the issues we were passionate about. Whenever I thought about the social issues that plagued the U.S and how much I wanted to resolve them, I always thought of myself accomplishing it as an adult.
— Aracely Chavez, 12th grader at San Fernando High School

“As adolescents, we never thought we could take action to solve the issues we were passionate about. Whenever I thought about the social issues that plagued the U.S and how much I wanted to resolve them, I always thought of myself accomplishing it as an adult,” says Aracely Chavez. However, this all changed when we were introduced to DIY Girls. Through DIY Girls, we learned about coding as we volunteered at Creative Coding summer camp and about the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams, a grant opportunity available to teams that created an invention geared towards solving an issue in their community.

After weeks of deliberation, we decided that homelessness in Los Angeles is an issue that we should focus on because it is a daily reality we all must confront. The San Fernando Valley saw a 36 percent increase in homelessness this year, to 7,100 residents. It is with a corresponding sense of urgency that we have sought to apply engineering principles and processes toward the development of a device that we believe will go a long way in serving the homeless population in Los Angeles - a system to provide temporary shelter for homeless people.

Because this issue is very close to home, we have made it our goal to make this backpack happen. We’ve let ourselves ignore this issue for far too long. We must act to make LA a better place to live.

 

Los Angeles Mayor Appoints DIY Girls Founder to Board of Public Works

Los Angeles Mayor Appoints DIY Girls Founder to Board of Public Works

Dear Friends and Supporters of DIY Girls,

We are excited to announce that our Founder and Executive Director, Luz Rivas has been appointed to serve in a full time position as a Commissioner on the Board of Public Works by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Luz has been dedicated to public service throughout her life, and this new opportunity is a great way for her to continue her work increasing girls' interest and success in technology and engineering.

The DIY Girls Board of Directors is deeply proud that the leader of our organization has been recognized by our City's leadership to take on this new role. We have been inspired by Luz's passion and vision from the very first day we joined DIY Girls and we know she will continue to make a meaningful difference in this new position.

Luz spent the past 5 years building an organization with a strong team. She grew the organization from serving 32 girls at 1 school to over 500 girls at more than 10 schools. We are committed to continuing the path that Luz has blazed and therefore we have appointed Evelyn Gomez (currently Director of Programs) as interim Executive Director while we work on the next steps for DIY Girls. Like Luz, Evelyn is an engineer and educator that graduated from MIT and Harvard. She has worked as a Math and Physics Teacher and has led DIY Girls programs for over 2 years. We are confident that Evelyn has the knowledge, passion, and commitment to carry our mission and vision forward.

We want to thank you for supporting DIY Girls throughout the years. We are excited to embark on a new chapter of DIY Girls with all of you. We hope you will join us in wishing Luz the best of luck in her new endeavor. Stay tuned for more.

Megan, Jesus, Grace, Jeff, Cassy, Liliana and Jo

Board of Directors - DIY Girls

 

DIY girls Experience Virtual Reality

Last week, DIY girls from our Creative Coding summer camp visited Rabbx Inc., an independent game production company located in Arleta, Los Angeles. Rabbx Inc. specializes in virtual and augmented reality—a topic introduced to our girls as they learned how code can be used to create interactive art experiences. 

We left Rabbx that day feeling like we had visited another world. Girls went to space and the deep sea virtually with the HTC Vive, a virtual reality headset developed by HTC and Valve Corporation. This device turns a room into a 3D environment using sensors. The sensor set up allows users to navigate a space naturally using their entire body. 

It’s hard to explain how you feel when experiencing virtual reality for the first time. For me, I felt like I found my happy place — completely enraptured in the world of art, technology, and magic. When I asked our girls about their experience, I received a resounding, “IT WAS SO COOL” (my first thoughts as well). Girls had similar words to express their feelings, however, so much more was communicated to me with the excitement in their eyes and smiles. I could tell that they had just experienced something they had never seen before— and that is important. 

Girls also got to play with an augmented reality game created by Rabbx Inc. called, Ghostly Mansion. In this game, you become a ghost imprisoned inside your home. In order to release your spirit and be at peace, you must unravel the mystery of your death. The girls absolutely love this game — although many asked Tori, co-creator of Ghostly Mansion, when “the scary parts happen”. 

Speaking directly with the creators of the product made their experience whole. They were not just playing a game. They were actively analyzing its design and engaged in conversation with awesome engineers. 

To top off what was already an amazing tour, the neighboring production studio gave us the opportunity to see a REAL spaceship…prop studio and the largest green screen I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen so many selfies taken in my life. It was an unforgettable experience for both DIY Girls staff, and the girls. 

We ended the tour with a Q & A with Tori, Aaron, and Joe —innovative entrepreneurs in the field of creative technology. I was impressed with the questions our girls asked and thankful for the openness of our hosts. Girls learned about the different ways VR can be used to change the world. They learned about importance of internships and education, but most of all, girls learned how critical it is to follow what you’re passionate about in life.

A big thank you to Jo Wright, our DIY Girls Board Member, for connecting us with Rabbx. 

- written by Sylvia Aguinaga, Director of Curriculum

Girls Gain STEAM This Summer

Girls Gain STEAM This Summer

This year, the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena awarded 30 of our girls scholarships to attend a summer program on its campus. With the support of generous donors we were able to provide a bus and a chaperone to get the girls to the Art Center each day. 

The following was written by DIY Girls program assistant, Verenice Martinez. She accompanied the girls each day to the Art Center and shared the experience.

Girls Gain STEAM This Summer

Working for DIY Girls, I get to see the excitement that girls express when they figure out how something works and when they get to explore something new. This summer, I rode a bus for a week 26 miles each way to and from Pasadena with a group of our middle school girls so that they could take courses at a world-renowned institution for free! I had the opportunity to observe them during their classes and witnessed the impact it had on them. They learned about architecture, design, self-portraiture, comic book storytelling and photography - all art skills that we think are important to integrate with our STEM programs.  The girls were fortunate to explore the “A” in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) and I’d like to personally thank the Art Center of Pasadena for providing this great opportunity.

In the Imagination Workshop, the girls were so excited to tell me how they were challenged to draw characters by just using shapes. After each class, they couldn't wait to tell me how they drew from still life and live models to create characters. Every day the girls had a new drawing and were eager to show me their new work.  

As a part of Comic Book Storytelling course, the girls learned to ideate storylines, created characters, learned to build focus on characters by shading and outlining to build their own comics.

Architecture allowed the girls to think and explore more about the interior and exterior of their ideal homes. I was able to see their creations come to life daily as they carried their projects with them. I saw them develop spaces that reflect in their personalities.

In Photography, girls explored their surroundings and were encouraged to be outdoors. They each created a personal photography book with photos based on a theme of their choice. One girl took initiative to ask her parents to go out to take pictures and as a result spent the day on a family outing to a Japanese Garden!

In the Self Portraiture class I watched a girl discover a talent she didn’t know she had. She learned contrasting techniques and learned to capture expressions. Watching her light up at seeing her own talent and how excited she was to go to every class was priceless.

The week at the Art Center was a success and all of the girls were so grateful for the experience. Most of them are currently enrolled in our Creative Coding camp where they are learning Processing, a language for learning how to code within the context of the visual arts. 

 

4 Free Makerspace Signs for your Classroom or Library

We created signs for our classroom makerspaces at elementary schools. Educators have contacted us asking for electronics copies and we're happy to now offer free downloads!


These four 11"x17" signs are a must-have for your makerspace. We print and laminate them making the signs easy to take anywhere.

The signs have helped us create a safe and creative environment for kids.
 

1. Image of girl and skills students can learn in a makerspace
2. Safety tips (tools, soldering iron, safety glasses)
3. Jr. Mentor tips (how kids can help other kids with projects)
4. Makerspace expectations

Download all of the signs in our shop

Interview with a DIY Girl: On Web Design and Creative Coding

Last week, we completed Week 7 of our 10-­week Web Design and Creative Coding Program for middle school girls at Vaughn Next Century Learning Center. It's the beginning of coding programs that we plan to offer in 2016 for middle school girls. 

We are teaching HTML and CSS within the context of developing a mobile app idea and creating a website to effectively promote that app. We are also testing our curriculum on Processing, a language for learning how to code within the context of the visual arts. 

Working with this group of middle school girls has been fulfilling on many fronts. It’s exciting to not only hear them speak confidently about what they want their code to do, but also use the correct terminology when doing so. Girls are throwing around “divs”, “selectors”, and “attributes” like it’s 2016. They are practicing code in an environment that encourages failure, collaboration, and new ideas. We can't wait to offer more programs like this.

To learn more about the impact on the girls and get feedback, we interviewed, Beatriz, a 7th grader in the program and asked her about her thoughts on learning to code! 

1. What do you think of the creative coding program so far? 

It’s difficult at times ­­remembering the symbols. But it’s also fun! You can make cool stuff and show it to your friends. It’s motivating. 

2. How is it motivating? 

Well, you guys motivate me all the time. When I have a problem, I turn to you. You make me believe I can do anything. 

3. How do you see yourself using code in the future?

I think knowing how to code is a good way to make more money. I can create an app that does anything I want. I think I can also use it as a hobby. 

4. How can we make this program better?

We could take trips in the field. I want to see the things we learn in action and talk to other women about their experiences.

This program was made possible with the generous support from Time Warner Cable's Connect a Million Minds Initiative. We are grateful for this grant that will allow us to teach over 150 middle school girls to code! 

Girls collect air quality data and prototype inventions

In honor of Air Quality Awareness Week, we'd like to share what our girls have been working on as part of our Making for Good: Clean Air project. 

In 2016, DIY Girls is focusing program content around the issue of air quality. DIY Girls serves girls primarily in the Northeast San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, where many of the schools are within a perimeter made up of highly congested freeways. Our founding site, Telfair Avenue Elementary School, is less than 210 feet away from the 118 freeway. 

This year, our girls have researched air quality and its effects on health and learning by empathizing with those affected by health issues caused by poor air quality, like asthma. By doing so, they have come up with their own understanding of the problem and its importance. 

At our after school programs, girls went outside and collected air quality data around their schools using the AirBeam, a palm-sized air quality monitor. They made predictions about which areas of their school had better or worse air quality and then tested those predictions by collecting particulate matter data. Surprisingly, girls found that particulate matter was highest inside the classrooms!

Our ‘Making for Good’ initiative is challenging girls to think about air quality issues in their community by leading them through the design thinking and engineering design process. As a part of this process, girls are empathizing with those that suffer from poor air quality to invent products that might help alleviate their symptoms. A group of girls at one of our sites decided to make a product line of inhalers for children with asthma. Their goal was to disguise the inhaler so that those with asthma can medicate discretely and with style! 

Girls first drew 2D models of their designs, then modeled these designs with clay so that they could imagine what they would look like in 3D. Finally, girls made 3D models of their designs in TinkerCAD, a free online 3D modeling software. These designs will be 3D printed so that girls can refine their prototypes. This is a six week long process that empowers girls to see themselves as designers, challenges them to work despite set backs, and helps them learn something completely new!

This project would not have been possible without the support of So Cal Gas and The California Endowment. We appreciate their support!