#SmartGirlsRock All Girls STEM Competition a Success!

Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida Graduates’ [The Foundation] Girls Get I.T. program recently wrapped up the
state finals for Florida’s only, 'all girl STEM Competition,' #SmartGirlsRock. The #SmartGirlsRock STEM Competition consisted of four regional competitions held in Ft. Lauderdale, Tallahassee, Tampa, and Jacksonville with the winners moving on to state finals at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, FL. on April 9, 2016. The Competition was designed to promote, motivate and support girls in STEM, and to challenge them to identify a problem and develop a solution using STEM based concepts/themes.

There were a total of eight presentations and 15 girls. FLATE was invited to serve as one of the four judges to evaluate and rate student presentations. “We asked the competitors to do one thing; solve a problem using science, technology, engineering or math at the root of your solution,” said Heather Beaven, CEO of the Foundation. Competitors were given the freedom to present a topic of their choice which allowed them to explore and engage in many different areas of STEM. Winning solutions ranged from edible water bottles, indestructible fabric, personal solar panel air conditioning and a more body friendly medical device for cecestomy patients, with FLATE presenting the top three winners with wooden robots. “Even the NASA judges thought their creativity, commitment to the scientific process, and brain power was seriously impressive,” said Beaven. 

The organization did not stop at the #SmartGirlsRock competition. The full day event also included a #RaisingSmartGirls
parent conference built to help parents encourage their daughters’ interest in STEM. Companies and colleges joined the #SmartGirlsWork career fair where they were able to network directly with some of Florida’s most promising students and their families. “I am deeply humbled and very grateful for the efforts and the opportunity and again just the sheer work involved to bring such a thing into the light, to give it shape and direction and create tangible connections,” said one mother of a state finalist.

Funds for the event were provided, in part, by the Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education Act via the Florida Department of Education. The assistance of volunteers and partners made the competition a great success!  Partners include: NASA, Stemfinity, Flate, Florida First Lego League, GLAM, Ladies Learning to Lead, STEM Exposure, DIVAS, Department of Juvenile Justice, NOVA, UNF, and the US Navy. 

More information on the Girls Get I.T. program and other programs offered by The Foundation can be found at www.flgraduates.org. For information on FLATE’s STEM resources for girls visit www.madeinflorida.org, or email Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org.

Article Contributed by
Katherine Cartright
Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida Graduates
386.439.5730