NCHS Grad’s Project Aims To Bring 3D Printing Sessions To Young Girls Across U.S.

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Nashville Community High School 2011 graduate Elizabeth Engele’s non-profit startup, MakerGirl, aims to bring 3D printing session to young girls (ages 7 to 10) across America. It’s not just technology that Engele and her colleagues want to bring to these girls though, it’s inspiration.

Engele is the daughter of Calvin and Stephanie Engele, and Jay and Jana Tull. After high school, she was a student at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and that’s where MakerGirl got its start.

When she was enrolled in a Social Entrepreneurship class led by Noah Isserman and Ryan Singh, she and the other MakerGirl co-founders were asked what bothered them and took note that at UIUC, a campus that offered its students nearly any opportunity, few women were engaged in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. MakerGirl was founded to address these issues.

The first MakerGirl session was later that very semester (November of 2014), and had just seven girls in it. Since then, there have been 50 more sessions and 450 more girls. That’s just the beginning though.

This summer, MakerGirl will embark on a roadtrip to inspire 7-10 year old girls across the country to pursue STEM fields through 3D printing sessions. MakerGirl has launched a Kickstarter, which is live from March 1 to March 31, to fund its journey to impact girls across state lines.

MakerGirl’s 3D printing sessions teach girls about different STEM related topics, encourage girls to build anything they envision, and provide girls with female role models and mentors.

In just 90 minutes, MakerGirls are introduced to the exciting world of STEM and shown what they can accomplish in that field. Each MakerGirl leaves the sessions with a sense of purpose and confidence, as well as a 3D printed object that she herself conceptualized and designed.

“The National Science Foundation states that 66 percent of 4th grade girls say they like science and math, but only 18 percent of all college engineering majors are female,” Engele said. “This means that their are hindrances in these girls’ upbringing that are preventing them from building change.”

“This lack of girls in STEM fields is preventing the United States from technologically developing at the rate that it could and should be,” Engle continued. “Girls need to be empowered to believe that they can make the change they want to see in their communities, and STEM knowledge is a primary way to do that.”

By traveling across the country, MakerGirl will widen its continuously-growing impact and influence girls in areas that may not have as much access to STEM-inspired learning opportunities (Nashville and surrounding communities might be examples of this, Engele said).

Proceeds for the Kickstarter will go towards funding the MakerGirl Mobile, which will be fully equipped with 3D printers and laptops for the girls to use.

“The point of the Kickstarter is to go to rural areas like Nashville,” Engele stated. “We might be stopping there this Summer if the Kickstarter launches. We need Nashville’s support in making this launch.”

To visit or contribute to MakerGirl’s Kickstarter go to bit.ly/makergirlkickstarter.

For more information on MakerGirl, visit makergirl.us.

MakerGirl co-founder and 2011 NCHS graduate Elizabeth Engele, left, shows a young girl how a 3D printed hand works.