The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas STEM Center of Excellence has a new installation for girls to learn about the lives and careers of women in STEM: the IF/THEN Ambassador STEM Experience.
This interactive table is for young girls to imagine themselves in STEM careers by demonstrating that women in STEM are enabling groundbreaking advances to society. The installation was created by The Virtual Wild, a digital agency focused on interactive experiences to innovate clients’ goals.
Located in the Rees-Jones Foundation Welcome Center at the STEM Center of Excellence, the table is used to inspire learning and careers through play. A 55-inch touchscreen tabletop joined by a 65-inch TV mounted on the wall gives young girls a glimpse of each AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador. IF/THEN is an initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies that seeks to further advance women in STEM by empowering current innovators while inspiring the next generation of pioneers.
“We could not be more thrilled to be able to provide our girls and visitors of the STEM Center the opportunity to use the IF/THEN Ambassador STEM Experience,” GSNETX CEO Jennifer Bartkowski said. “The installation perfectly aligns with our mission to introduce our girls to educational and professional opportunities available in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields.”
To learn about the lives of each ambassador, girls can place 3D figures of the ambassadors on the table, and the TV will show an overview of the ambassador’s career and which badges they would have if they were a Girl Scout to encourage them to follow in these women’s footsteps.
The 10 ambassadors girls can choose to learn about work in fields ranging from wildlife ecology, galactic exploration, video game productions, and others. The full list of ambassadors is as follows:
- Heather Chandler: Game Development Consultant – Heather Makes Games
- Anamita Guha: Product Manager, Artificial Intelligence – META/Facebook
- Tiffany Kelly: Sports Data Scientist, CEO and Founder – Curastory
- Beata Mierzwa: Molecular Biologist/Artist – Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, UC San Diego
- Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil: Astrophysicist, Postdoctoral Researcher – Steward Observatory
- Debbie Sterling: Mechanical Engineer and Founder/CEO – Goldieblox
- Jennifer Stimpson: Scientist & Chemist – Hockaday School (also hosts the interactive experience)
- Kim Swennen: Senior Software Engineer – Google Arts and Culture, Actress
- Kirsten Tulchin-Francis: Biochemist and Bioengineer – Nationwide Children’s Hospital
- Rae Wynn-Grant: Large Carnivore Ecologist, National Geographic Society Fellow
“We are passionate about creating emerging media experiences that increase representation for girls and inspire them to see themselves as the next generation of leaders in STEM,” The Virtual Wild founder Jay Rutherford said. “We are so excited to see young Girl Scouts embracing cutting edge technologies to see themselves reflected in the incredible achievements of the IF/THEN Ambassadors.”
This isn’t the first time the Girl Scouts have worked with The Virtual Wild or IF/THEN. It’s the second project in a five-year strategic partnership between GSNETX and The Virtual Wild to expand digital immersive experiences that enhance learning while complementing outdoor adventures. Their first partnership was for an app to bring a virtual component to The STEM Center’s geology trail, allowing girls to look for fossils on the app then dig up 3D printed ones toward the trail’s end.
The IF/THEN Ambassador Experience is funded through a grant from IF/THEN to the Girl Scouts of the USA. IF/THEN previously worked with GSUSA to raise the profiles of women in STEM to inspire young girls to do the same. This partnership led to a badge for STEM career exploration for second through eighth graders, and participating in the IF/THEN Ambassador Experience can count toward the requirements for the badge.
The 92-acre STEM Center of Excellence opened in 2018 to change the workforce pipeline in STEM and allow girls to experience programs in astronomy, robotics, coding, computer science, and other STEM-related subjects. For more information about the STEM Center of Excellence, visit stemcenter.gsnetx.org.