Let's Invite Girls to the Maker's Movement

The Girls Excelling in Math and Science (GEMS) Club Initiative, Nova Labs and the Mid-Atlantic Girls Collaborative  (MAGiC) is proud to announce a new project: the Girl Makers of Northern Virginia. 

The project—funded by a $3,500 grant from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s Innovation Fund ($1,000) and the Moore Family Foundation ($2,500)—builds upon two “Take Apart” sessions held at Nova Labs last winter. GEMS Club members, armed with screwdrivers, pliers and safety glasses, dismantled computers, scanners and copy machines to see what makes them tick.

“We provide the recycled items and the tools and the girls provide the elbow grease and the enthusiasm,” says Brian Jacoby, Nova Labs President. The goal, he says, is to inspire tinkering and to feed girls’ natural curiosity, encouraging them to touch, try and explore.

“New funding will allow us to expand the program,” Jacoby says. Take Apart sessions, like Girl Makers, aims to build girls’ interest in pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes and careers.  

Elizabeth Vandenburg, Co-Lead and Outreach Director of GEMS and MAGiC, says, “We all know the 21st-century economic engine is STEM innovation. What is the untapped resource? Nearly 51% of the U.S. population: women. Girls need to get in the pipeline, and Nova Labs is at the cutting edge spearheading this exciting project.” 

Founded in 1994, the GEMS Club initiative is a grassroots, after-school effort to expose 3rd through 8th grade girls to the fun and wonder of STEM fields. Started at Clearview Elementary School by volunteers and teachers, the GEMS Club initiative now has 35 clubs across Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and expanded at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in Chicago, Illinois.

Nova Labs is a nonprofit “makerspace” in Reston that provides a community workshop where people can learn, teach and collaborate on creative and technical works, and promotes the usefulness of competence in the technical arts. The lab is part of the international grassroots Maker Movement, spreading quickly in neighborhoods across the United States.

The Mid-Atlantic Girls Collaborative (MAGiC) is a coalition of corporate, educational and non-profit organizations dedicated to promoting girls and STEM.