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Assemble’s new Girls’ Maker Night brings STEAM learning to Pittsburgh girls

Emily Stimmel
January13/ 2015

Assemble is moving full STEAM ahead into 2015 with a new series of free classes for girls in 6th through 8th grades. Girls’ Maker Night, held on Monday evenings from 4-6:30 p.m., is designed to empower middle school girls through the integration of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) concepts.

“I’ve seen firsthand the ways that STEAM education engages kids to learn in new ways and become excited about things that they might not have otherwise explored,” says Girls’ Maker Night instructor, Jess Gold. Though Gold will offer most instruction solo, local women in STEAM fields are invited to participate as guest experts, offering their skills and support.

So why create a class just for girls? Women–who comprise 50% of the overall workforce–only hold 25% of STEM jobs. Gold says, “This is definitely a problem, and I think that there need to be more opportunities and resources to support women in STEM fields. It’s important to acknowledge that the problems we have with gender inequality in STEM relate to larger issues of gender inequality and gender roles in our society.”

Throughout the series, girls will learn diverse skills including basic coding, robotics, sewing and DIY chemistry. They will document their projects and share their research findings on the program’s blog.

Single-sex classes offer girls a supportive environment to learn about shared interests – interests that run the gamut from game design to glitter. “Imagine that you were able to make a Hello Kitty video game or a Hello Kitty robot that throws glitter when you activate a sensor. I think that is really when STEAM is kicking it,” says Nina Barbuto, founder of Assemble.

In addition to limiting enrollment to girls, Assemble is capping the class at 10 participants to ensure personalized attention. Because Girls’ Maker Night emphasizes long-term projects and skill-building through an immersive learning experience, Assemble encourages weekly attendance.

Girls throughout Pittsburgh are invited to attend the free classes. As Barbuto puts it, “The more opportunities girls have in the city that are low-cost and accessible, the better.”

Registration for Girls’ Maker Night is now open. In addition to recruiting girls to attend the workshops, Assemble is seeking women in STEAM careers to lead hands-on activities and provide interactive presentations during the sessions. For more information, visit www.assemblepgh.com, contact jess@assemblepgh.org or stop into Assemble, located at 5125 Penn Avenue in Garfield.

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Emily Stimmel

Emily fell in love with the written word as a teenager, when she published zines and wrote for her school paper. A former arts & entertainment contributor to Pittsburgh City Paper, Emily has worked in non-profit public relations for over a decade. She enjoys cooking, reading, crafting and exploring Pittsburgh with her husband and two sons.