Our submission to the #VLInnovators Challenge: PODEROSAS! Growing strong through STEM

Bringing together a community of Latina high school students to make and innovate is the goal of our latest project, Poderosas. The DIY Girls team has submitted a proposal to the Voto Latino #VLInnovators Challenge to create a website that will give high school Latinas-across the nation- the power to start their own Poderosas club at their school. This website will provide girls with access to a variety of resources such as project ideas, where to buy materials, and the ability to communicate with professional females in the STEM community.

Our team for this challenge consists of the DIY Girls staff led by our engineering program manager, Evelyn Gomez. The staff heard about the Voto Latino challenge and thought it would be a great way to launch our high school program that has been in the works.

To get a clearer understanding of the problem being solved, here is the submission made for the challenge:

    Latinas are severely underrepresented in STEM fields, representing only 2% of scientists and engineers in the US. A recent UCLA study found that Latina high school girls often do not participate in extracurricular activities, which leads to a sense that they “don’t belong” in school. One of the study’s recommended actions was for educators to assure that every Latina student participate in an extracurricular activity that can connect her to school and introduce her to exciting new fields.

Building on its success in offering school-based STEM programs to nearly 400 Latinas since 2012, DIY Girls aims to scale its impact by developing Poderosas, an interactive curriculum website to support the formation of school clubs nationwide, geared towards educating and mentoring the next generation of Latina engineers and technologists.

The website will guide students and mentors in starting successful STEM clubs. This site will provide resources for hands-on projects including How-To videos, a platform to share projects with other Latinas nationwide, and guidance on how to apply to college.

Our team is comprised of STEM educators, engineers, and designers with experience working with Latina youth in diverse settings. Members of the team bring experience in graphic and web design, curriculum development, STEM program management, and video production. The team is led by a Latina aerospace engineer and former high school STEM teacher. As a teacher she has seen firsthand that while student desire for STEM programs is strong, the resources for establishing and operating these programs are lacking.

 

Our project has made it to the semi-finals and we hope to advance to the finals and win! We are extremely excited for this opportunity and would appreciate all the support we can get. Sign up for our Poderosas newsletter at diygirls.org/poderosas for updates and progress!