Girls Grok Tech

IBM program hopes to spur interest in science

Swetha Sriram wants to design robots when she grows up.

I wanted to play in the NBA.

Swetha, in middle school, has a way better chance at reaching her career goal that I ever did, thanks in part to the world's biggest technology company, IBM.  Big Blue took time out from designing chips and drives, to chip away at a stereotype that drives many of us in the tech world to distraction:  That tech, and the tech industry, is only for men.

IBM calls it "Girl Tech Camp."  It's simple, really:  gathering girls like Swetha together in various cities (we caught up with them in San Jose), and showing them that technology can be cool.  A career worth dreaming about.  So they play around with dry ice, learn what diodes are, and what they do, and experiment with solar panels.

"If you tell somebody they can build a solar nightlight with glass wires and a plastic bottle," Swetha says, "I think they would be interested."  Just wait until later in the week, when the girls take a trip to the NASA AMES Research Center, to learn about space travel.

That's what Middle-schooler Kelly Medina is waiting for.  Kelly, it turns out, wants to be an astronaut.  I'd say her odds are pretty good.

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