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ENGAGE: Sparking Inspiration in Middle Schoolers Across Florence

October 16, 2015

As she stared at her computer screen, Makayala Goodman, an eighth grader from Sneed Middle School, was focused, typing in lines of complex coding. 

The task at hand? Design an ice cream cone using the OpenSCAD 3D design program. The software – intended to create basic designs that can be 3D printed – was the focus of all the young girls in the room.

With a few minutes left until the end of ENGAGE, a sphere and a cone finally appeared together on Goodman’s computer. She grinned – even though her ice cream-like creation wasn’t edible, the victory was just as sweet. 

Over fifty girls just like Goodman participated in the ENGAGE workshop which kicked off October 10 at Southside Middle School in Florence.  

As the newest outreach initiative of the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM), ENGAGE is designed to help build young girls’ confidence with new technologies and fuel their desire to learn more about STEM. The outreach program focuses on impacting students through early interest and awareness of STEM studies and careers. 

“Students will learn the skills of coding and 3D printing, an emerging field of study that has application in all subject areas – from art to engineering,” said Irene Middleton, Outreach Programs Director at GSSM. “At an age when girls typically move away from concentrated studies in STEM, ENGAGE offers an amazing opportunity for girls in our community to connect in a significant way.” 

Tackling 3D printing and design is no easy feat – but for the middle school girls at the ENGAGE workshop on October 10, it was a new adventure. Working together with girls from all over the Florence School District One area, they formed bonds with other students they had never met. 

And developed bonds with students from GSSM.

Working as workshop facilitators, the Govies gave the middle schoolers a breakdown of the history of 3D printing, taught them the basics of the design program and even helped them understand how exactly they could code tangible objects – like two shapes that just so happened to resemble an ice cream cone.

Ellie Stuckey, a Senior at GSSM, was glad to have a chance to share her love for technology, 3D printing and robotics with the students. After all, that was what she was most passionate about and she was ready to ignite a passion like hers into the middle schoolers. 

And she was right. Goodman was excited by the end of the workshop; her favorite part of the day had been working with OpenSCAD. And so were the other students. They couldn’t wait to come back for the next session of ENGAGE.

The workshop will continue on October 24 and November 14. ENGAGE culminates on November 21 with a showcase for families, partner schools and community members.

Pictured above: Ellie Stuckey, GSSM Class of 2016, helps a student during ENGAGE on October 10.

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