"My brother mentioned that in his C++ class, there were 33 boys and no girls," explained Jothi Ramaswamy, a ninth grader at Lakeland High School in Shrub Oak. "This fact shocked me so I went online and found out that although 66 percent of fourth grade girls are interested in science, only 18 percent major in computer science after high school."
Ramaswamy said she wanted to do something about this and so, spent part of her summer observing two middle school camps: Girls Inc.’s SmarTech camp and IBM’s Girls Go TechKnow camp.
At IBM, Ramaswamy learned about a new concept called STEAM, which combines STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) with the Arts. Fascinated by this, she came up with the idea for her own organization, called ThinkSTEAM.
The 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization -- which she was able to put together with grant requests from IBM and Ardsley-based Acorda Therapeutics -- is built on the mission of bridging the gender gap in STEM fields using the arts. To that end, Ramaswamy is working hard on offering free workshops and contests to keep girls engaged.
ThinkSTEAM's first event, set for Sunday, Nov. 15 and entitled “Make Your Own Electronic Wearable Accessory, " is already booked.
The good news is that registration for the next workshop, on 3D printing, will open this week. That event is slated for Sunday, Dec. 13, also in the Mahopac Public Library.
ThinkSTEAM will be hosting additional events including workshops on HTML/CSS and Scratch.
A ThinkBIG Contest meant to challenge girls artistically to explore the importance of STEM/STEAM is also in the works.
And ThinkSTEAM will be giving out awards to high school girls who are doing exceptional research in STEM fields at the WESEF Science Fair, which takes place in March 2016.
Ramaswamy is also trying to connect with other middle schools in the area to expand ThinkSTEAM's workshops.
The ambitious student said she's always been interested in science and math and started learning coding in sixth grade (It helps that her mom is a software engineer).
She began with HTML/CSS and other basic tutorials before moving on to Java and WordPress. And yes, that means she's used her newfound knowledge to design and develop ThinkSTEAM's website.
Go to www.thinksteam4girls.org/ for more information.
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