Why are no girls interested in engineering?
Ananya Ganesh looked around at a science fair a few years ago and saw something that disturbed her.
“I noticed there weren’t many other girls that were interested in engineering,” she said.
Ananya decided to do something about it.
The 17-year-old student at Atlanta’s Westminster School has started the Girls Maker Initiative for middle school students.
Ananya introduced her program -- now in its second year – at Elbert County Middle School and the Athens Library in Royston, GA, to go along with others in Metro Atlanta.
The Girls Maker Initiative’s goal is to jumpstart the desire and ability of middle school girls to make things and “learn how to play” with technology.
The program provides girls with a small box full of items needed to get started.
The box includes an Arduino Basics board, a small microcontroller that can be used to create a variety of things.
The kit also comes with wires, connections and other needed electronics supplies.
Ananya also provides a project manual that includes several different projects that a girl in the program can create.
The manual begins with the most basic of projects and then builds to increasingly-difficult ones.
“The goal is for them to go through this book so they can write their own book,” Ananya said.
The Girls Maker Initiative sponsors a yearly contest for the best projects created by those in the program.
Last year, the winning projects were a renewable, rotating recharger, and a machine that can sense when houseplants are dry to water them.
While still just a high school junior, Ananya has a long list of accomplishments.
She was a national finalist and Science Award winner in the Broadcom Masters competition, a first-place Global Entrepreneurship Competition winner, a national medalist in the Scholastic Writing Award and a national finalist in the EngineerGirl Competition.
This year, she’s also a national finalist in the International Science and Engineering Fair, a state winner in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, a state winner in the Georgia BioGenius competition and the Pinnacle Award winner at the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair, 2019. Ananya will attend the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona in May.
Ananya brought the Girls Maker Initiative to Royston and Elbert County because she considers Franklin, Hart and Elbert counties a second home.
Ananya grew up coming to the area, spending time in Royston, Franklin County, Hart County and Elbert County as well.
After creating her Initiative, Ananya looked to bring it to places without a “makerspace.”
A makerspace is a dedicated area where students can gather to create and build projects.
There was no such space in Franklin or Elbert counties, so Ananya reached out to Elbert County Middle School and the Athens Library in Royston, GA with a proposal to setup Makerspaces.
Funding for the initiative has come from Ananya’s efforts to raise donations from sponsors.
She’s also exploring grants that might help.
According to Elbert County Middle School Principal Sandee Drake, the program presently has 12 members involved.
The group is open to all seventh and eighth grade girls and will meet every Monday after school from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
“Instruction has begun in Arduino Basics, which include the physics of voltage and resistor,” said Drake.
“This is an excellent chance for our students to engage in real world technology that can open doors to a great variety of college and employment opportunities in their future,” said Drake. “We also plan to expand the program as we are able and hope that these girls will return to continue what they learn and to lead others who are new to technology.”
For more information on the Girls Maker Initiative, visitwww.girlsinitative.com.