The MassTLC Education Foundation is proud to run the regional competition round of Technovation, an international program that teaches mobile app development and entrepreneurship to middle and high school girls, each year. In 2018, a total of 41 teams participated in the local showcase event, including 4 from our neighbor, Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Technovation community continues to grow each year. As in Massachusetts, Rhode Island participants are hoping to recruit even more girls, teachers/coaches, and mentors to get involved in 2019.
Are you a RI based teacher looking for a creative way to engage your female students and teach valuable STEM skills? Consider starting a Technovation team at your school this year. “Confidence, excitement, and a startup experience” are just a few of the things they will take away from the experience. But don’t take our word for it.
MassTLC reached out to Holly Eaves, a teacher at East Greenwich High School in Rhode Island to ask her to share, in her own words, what makes Technovation so special. We also heard from Lauren, one of Mrs. Eaves’ students, about her experience on a Technovation team.
Holly Eaves, Teacher at East Greenwich High School
Why did you decide to coach a Technovation team?
As a female engineer, I have been looking for ways to promote CS and Engineering to young women. I heard about Technovation through the Computer Science Teachers Association – Rhode Island (CSTA- RI) and thought I would put it out to the female students in my CS class to see if there was any interest. We all decided to give it a try.
Why is Technovation an important opportunity for girls?
I feel like young women are not naturally provided opportunities in tech fields. The support, breadth of experience and confidence that young women garner makes Technovation a worthwhile opportunity.
How much time did it take to coach the girls? Was that in school or after school hours?
The young ladies that participated were very involved in many activities. We did practice after school once a week for 2-3 hours. We mainly used this for idea generation, design, coding and business planning. We did run out of time and the teams had to get together on weekends as well.
What did the girls get out of the experience?
Confidence, excitement, and a “startup experience.” Making mistakes, working on damage control, and be willing to fail are great for fueling problem-solving skills. The young ladies took a risk in trying out something new.
What did you as an educator get out of it?
As a life-long learner, I always learn something new. I get great satisfaction just supporting the young ladies in their journey of discovery. It is important to cultivate these skills in our students. I love the smiles on their faces when they can say “We made that!”
What did you learn that will help you improve this year’s experience?
We will get started on brainstorming and app design earlier. Also, we need to spend more time pitching the idea. I think pitching the idea throughout the idea generation and design will help the young ladies discover the words to explain what they are doing. I think this helps them zone in on the important aspects of their app submission.
Would you do it again, and would you recommend that other teachers participate?
Yes, I would do it again! I will recommend that other teachers participate, but the time commitment is significant for teachers.
Lauren, Student at East Greenwich High School
How did you learn about Technovation and why did you decide to participate?
I learned about Technovation through my computer science teacher at school. I decided to participate because it looked like an exciting opportunity, and I’m very interested in computer science.
How did you all decide to work together?
There were only a few girls interested from our class, so we all formed a group.
Tell us about your project? How did you come up with the idea?
We came up with the idea by talking to the special ed teacher at our school, Mrs. Healy. We wanted to make an app that could really affect our school community.
How did you divide up the work?
We all planned together. One person become the main coder, one of our team members had experience with business plans, so she specialized in that. Everyone chipped in on the code, but one person was the main coder.
What was the hardest part–coding, business plan, pitch, etc.?
In my opinion, the hardest part was the pitch, because we had never done that before, and it is in front of judges, so it’s more intimidating.
What did you get out of the experience and would you recommend it to other girls?
I improved my coding skills from this experience. I learned how to develop an idea into a real app. I also learned about the business side of things. Overall, I thought Technovation was a great experience, and I would definitely recommend it to other girls!