Fall Update

Fall Update
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As winter slowly creeps in on us, I wanted to reflect on the fall and provide an update on how the new school year is coming along.  The girls are beyond excited about navigating the mystical world of STEM and also exploring what it means to be confident, young girl of color. Here are some of the highlights of the past few weeks:
  • We met our campaign goal – wahoo!!! Thank you so much to everyone who supported. We really couldn’t make this happen without you. In fact, because of your contributions, we were able to hire our first part-time staff member who acts our Site Director and Dance Coach, purchase a highly acclaimed robotics kit, as well as get supplies and refreshments to equip our girls for the hard work that’s ahead.
  • We are up and running at a community center in Manhattan’s Two Bridges neighborhood.
Community room that SFD takes place in

Community room that SFD takes place in

  • We have 6 volunteer coaches (3 Math and 3 STEM coaches) who have phenomenal credentials, are encouraging role models, and have awesome rapport with our girls.
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Math coach Marie (Columbia University, Ph.D candidate in Chemistry) with an SFD girl
  • We split our time with the girls evenly between Learning Lab, STEM Lab, and Dance Studio.
  • During Learning Lab, we 1) address any gaps in foundational algebra skills and 2) reinforce concepts taught in their current 9th grade algebra class to ensure mastery, as determined by the Common Core State Standards.
  • During STEM Lab, our girls are building robots this semester! What’s awesome about robotics is that it’s a great combination of mechanical and electrical engineering and computer science, giving students a hands-on experience with an assortment of STEM fields.
LEGO Mindstorm robots that the girls have started building

LEGO Mindstorm robots that the girls have started building

  • During Dance Studio, the girls learned our SFD dance to “Roar” (Katy Perry). We do this dance every day, right before we dismiss the girls. It’s a dance about being courageous, having a fighter spirit through life’s struggles, and coming together as girls to support and uplift each other as we roar like lions. For this semester, we’ll be working on a piece called “Fighter”. Stay tuned to hear more about it!
Doing our SFD "Roar" dance

Doing our SFD “Roar” dance

  • The students are really pumped about being part of this. Check out a few words from the girls themselves:
–  “I am here today because I love dance and I love math so both of them together is very exciting.”
–  “I want to gain confidence, surprise myself with my abilities, and to commit.”
–  “I want to attend because this is a good opportunity to learn new things.”
–  “What I’m hoping to get out of this experience is learning more about STEM.”
–  “I love Dance Studio so much. I love it because it’s a lot of positive dance and it helps me get my feelings out and I just love it.”
  • We are learning a TON! Given the early stage of our venture, it’s so critical that we learn and continually improve. We have been able to seek and incorporate feedback from our students, coaches, and community members and strive to make each day better than the last.
When I met one of our students at an information session we held and told her that I studied engineering, she said “I didn’t know there were black women engineers!” Ohh, we are about to rock her world!
Until next time!
Yamilee