Video transcript – Tech Girls - Creating the Future

Peggy Mangovski, Head Teacher Technology and Innovation:
Hello, my name is Mrs Mangovski. I'm the head teacher of technology and innovation at West Wallsend High School. We originally started the Girls of the Future Program to ensure that our young ladies were having opportunities, and being exposed to various areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Although we've had quite good numbers in terms of girls enrolling in our STEM classes, what we were finding is that we weren't getting enough of the younger girls to engage in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, until later in their schooling years.

The Girls of the Future STEM Program at West Wallsend High School is comprised of a team of specialist teachers, female STEM mentors in the areas of science, technology, design, and this year we've also added CAPA for the STEAM element, or the artistic side.

Karen Walsh, Teacher Science and STEM:
Hi, I'm Karen Walsh, and I work at West Wallsend High School. We have a very strong STEM program here at the school, and not that long ago, we took part in a competition which was for girls, and also for our primary school, so that we could focus on up skilling and increasing the confidence of our girls in STEM.

Student 1:
Creating an app sounded pretty interesting, and also I got to work with my friends. And I knew it would open, like, heaps of opportunities.

Student 2:
I wanted to learn how to code an app, because you see apps all the time and it would just be fun to go behind the scenes and create one.

Penny Mangovski:
This program is unique in the sense that we looked at a number of factors to determine why young girls weren't engaging in STEM.

The confidence was definitely a factor. We also had the lack of mentors for young girls as well. We had the issues of girls feeling when either they're out-of-place, or didn't belong there in terms of their male counterparts.

Julie Meyers, Teacher Technological and Applied Studies:
Hi, I'm Julie Meyers. I'm a TAS teacher at West Wallsend High School.

My role in this process was to enable the girls to think creatively. I wanted them to really come up with some really, really big ideas. I could see the girls on the day getting really, really excited about some of the things they were coming up with.

Student 1:
We're working on the STEM challenge Tech Girls are Superheroes.

Student 2:
We're making an app where it helps with homework, so if you're in English and you're stuck on how to write an essay, you could just ask people around the world, and they'll hopefully answer it, or give you tips.

Karen Walsh:
I wanted to make the connections with the real world. I wanted students to understand that 3D printers are being used in the real world, and that they are really important part of our future.

So I wanted to provide examples of ways that they have been used, and ways that they're going to be used in the future.

Student 1:
I've designed this little alarm clock, so you could clip onto your pillow or something, and it solved the problem of not waking everyone up with a loud alarm.

Student 2:
I created this whistle that young women could use if they feel like they're in danger, and call attention to themselves so they can get out of a dangerous situation.

Dr Fiona Walsh, Principal West Wallsend High School:
The main reasons is the quality of teacher that stands in front of the classroom.

We have amazing, dedicated, committed teachers who inspire students to learn every day, and certainly engage students through great programs that have been written.

We have been provided with a significant amount of funding from RDA Hunter,

that has then allowed us, coming from a low socio-economic background, to provide opportunities and resources for students to then work with, and learn in.

Those two reasons are certainly important, but another thing is the commitment of staff to ensure that the programs are sustainable and embedded. And so that's a continuation of learning for students not just now, not past, but certainly within the future.

Karen Walsh:
It was great having a group of girls together because it is really important in these male-dominated fields such as physics and STEM and coding, that these girls who do have the creativity and the ability to do these subjects, they need to be able to have the confidence to participate. So by giving them an opportunity to work with just girls, we're giving them the chance to build their confidence in hope they will take that path.

Student 1:
I think it's good to be a part of a male-dominated area because women can bring a new perspective into it.

Student 2:
It's just taught me that I can do anything and I can be anything what I want.

Student 3:
I think this will help us in the future because it will help us get jobs, because STEM is part of the future.

Penny Mangovski:
In particular with girls, we find that when they can make the connection with technology, and science, and engineering and mathematics, and how it actually can make a difference in the world, or it's attached to a social issue, that's when we see girls with the light bulb moment, going "Hey, I can use this, I can do something with this, "I can use these skills to make a difference." And that's where we find most of our girls are very keen to participate in the program because of those social issues and the big picture, helping the world in some form or another.

So they were very excited to be able to participate in that program, and we've certainly seen an increase in their passion, and their confidence, and their desire to continue working and learning in STEM fields.

End of transcript

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