AWS Girls’ Tech Day at HHS Helps Girls Dream of Careers in STEAM

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The largest AWS Girls' Tech Day ever took place Saturday, Oct. 14 at Hermiston High School with more than 150 middle school girls in attendance. (Contributed photo)

AWS Girls’ Tech Day took place this past Saturday, Oct. 14, at Hermiston High School in Hermiston.

This year’s event brought together more than 150 middle school girls – making it the largest Girls’ Tech Day in eastern Oregon – to inspire in them an interest in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).

AWS Girls’ Tech Day was developed in 2018 to put a much-needed spotlight on the need for more girls to pursue STEAM careers. It pioneered as a free, half-day learning event that combined panel discussions with trailblazing women and interactive activities to expand awareness of future career possibilities. In 2019, the program expanded to eastern Oregon and other communities around the world. The program has now reached more than 14,000 girls and young women, across 30 countries.

For this year’s event, AWS collaborated with Hermiston and Umatilla school districts, and coordinated transportation for girls coming from the Sustainable Agriculture and Energy (SAGE) Center, which helped engage students across eastern Oregon. Highlights of this year’s event include: learning how tech can be used to optimize farming for sustainability and efficiency, building their own robot with the help of Umatilla High School Robotics Team, experiencing what it’s like to be a real-life forensic scientist and learning about human anatomy with virtual reality.

The event also included a panel discussion, hosted by Dr. Tricia Mooney, superintendent of the Hermiston School District and featuring local women leaders from Umatilla Electric Cooperative, Three Mile Canyon, Good Shepherd Health Care System, Prime Air, and AWS.“If we want more women in STEAM fields, we must engage girls early, show them the possibilities open to them in these fields, and help them get involved,” said Mooney. “AWS Girls’ Tech Day helps do just that – it gives girls the chance to explore coding, robotics, cloud computing, problem solving, and more, in exciting ways – expanding their skillsets and boundaries of what’s possible.”

Additional Girls’ Tech Day events will take place in Ohio, California, and other communities around the world. In addition, to build upon the success of Girls’ Tech Day, AWS will begin expanding the program into a full-fledged Girls’ Tech Series, transforming the one-day event designed to spark an interest in tech into a recurring series of engagements, such as STEAM clubs, competitions, and a speaker series, to help kindle that initial STEAM interest into a lifelong passion.

“AWS Girls’ Tech Day gives girls the opportunity to cultivate a passion for STEAM through hands-on experience with technology and exposure to positive role models that showcase how a variety of women have launched successful careers in these fields,” said Paul Butler, Community Engagement Manager, AWS. “As the program reaches 5 years, we’re proud to see how Girls’ Tech Day has continued to grow, allowing us to positively impact more students and build on our ongoing efforts to bring STEAM education opportunities to young learners.”Girls’ Tech Day is part of a collection of programs developed by AWS InCommunities to help create the next generation of creative thinkers and future builders in the communities where it has a physical presence.

AWS has also supported the launch of four AWS Think Big Spaces in eastern Oregon, which are educational labs that provide students, educators, and communities with hands-on technical education and cloud computing training. These are located at the SAGE Center in Boardman, Umatilla High School in Umatilla, across from Blue Mountain Community College in Hermiston, and Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation.

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