Bullseye! Target a Career in STEM program

Blog_target_stem_computersTarget’s new space in Brooklyn Park played host to girls and volunteers who got a close-up view of jobs available in science, technology, engineering, and math.

First up, the whole group teamed up to use their observation skills and deductive reasoning to assemble a story. Each participant had a picture they needed to connect to the others. By first attaching to smaller groups, they found ways the larger groups could connect into one long sequence. (They were using their science skills already!)

Professionals from all areas of STEM shared job stories about why they chose their careers. Girls learned that some people help get a new store in place; installing computer systems, designing floor layouts and ventilation systems for example. There are also more ongoing tasks like managing systems to keep track of inventory, updating product lines, or making the registers work better – that many girls never realized were done.

An all-girls robotics team let everyone try out the controls of this year’s robot, Grace, (named after computer science pioneer Grace Hopper); many were impressed that the team had to build a new robot every year – from scratch. “Grace” had to pick up large exercise balls and launch them through a target.

Then it was time for the stations: practice with the pros in three types of science and technology careers. The computer coders and technicians shared what is special about their jobs and what is behind making a computer do what we want it to do. Girls practiced coding their own animations and then shared with the group.

In product design, girls learned about the design process and variables to consider, including types of materials, budget for supplies, time and space constraints, and construction techniques. Next they designed, built, and tested model boats based on a limited budget and specific guidelines. The challenge was to carry as many pennies as possible without sinking. This was “harder than it looks” according to more than one group, while another pointed out the importance of “trying again when things don’t work out.”

Food science looked easier – just getting to taste test all day, right? It turns out that “food scientists do a lot of work,” and there was a lot more going on behind the scenes than they thought, including all the information that goes into the labels of our favorite foods. The girls still had an opportunity for taste testing (juice and chips!), and they invented their own recipes for snacks they would like to see on the shelves. Birthday cake potato chip anyone?

This program highlighted careers that many never knew existed in STEM. The girls got to chat with people who who use their science and technology skills on the job every day.

And they aren’t the only ones; the girls also realized that they could “make new connections and observations,” and even learned that “I am a good scientist!”

And any program that accomplishes that  – really hits the bullseye!