Creating a Brighter Future

 

By Stephanie Silberman, HOLA Development & Communications Manager

Photo courtesy of New Village Girls Academy

Photo courtesy of New Village Girls Academy

As the crisp winter winds hit Los Angeles, a group of lively young girls gather into a makerspace classroom at New Village Girls Academy. There’s a small computer station off to the side, shelves upon shelves of tools in the back, and a detailed timeline of art history appears inconspicuously on the whiteboard. At the center of the room, the girls huddle together, holding saws, 2-ply wood boards, and screws. They are engaged in project-based learning, grounded in maker-style education, in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) led by HOLA’s Scientific Arts Department (SciArts).

For years, SciArts has focused on outreach to local libraries and schools near HOLA, all within the LA Promise Zone. The partnership with New Village Girls Academy provides young girls with practical skills in a workshop as if they were shop assistants. Students learn how to saw properly and safely, how to take care of and use tools, and participate in the annual JPL Invention Challenge. By exposing the students to different pathways, they become more comfortable around tools and workshops, no longer tied to gender.

Photo courtesy of New Village Girls Academy

Photo courtesy of New Village Girls Academy

One of the students, Kim noted, “When people think about construction the first thing to pop into their heads is men working hard. In this project my group learned that women are just as capable of working with tools as men. I loved the environment, I loved the group I got to work with, and I loved the wonderful mentors we were lucky to have. We were all such as positive group with ambition to do the task, and I believe the drive that everyone had really added to the success of our group. Our mentors, Abraham and Federico, are truly amazing people who took time out of their days to educate us on skills that we can use whenever the time is right. I’m really excited for next semester's project!”

HOLA SciArts focuses on lessons of empowerment, engagement, and team building. Students feel comfortable enough in the classroom to share their experiences. One student admits to the group, “I had a bad morning today.” While another wears a t-shirt that says “power of the girls” and talks to the group about dealing with trauma. These girls are learning skills far beyond the classroom. New Village recently featured the girls’ experience in their newsletter.

Another student Jessica recalled, “At first I wasn’t sure about working in a team because there’s usually problems, but working with my team we got along and didn’t have a problem at any time. We all worked together, communicated, helped one another, took turns using the tools we wanted to use, helped clean up, and on the day of the competition, we all supported one another. When we lost we all were together cheering each other up. In a way we became a little family, believing in each other. We all brought in the talent we had. Everyone had different kinds of talent and roles, but every role that each person had worked well together and we collaborated.”

The next team activity will be the Toyota Hydrogen Horizon Automotive Challenge. Students will create a remote control car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. In the meantime, SciArts Director Abraham Orozco hosts an open lab on Friday evenings at HOLA with a focus on craft with robotics kits and physics lessons in addition to animation, coding, and other digital media. Abraham wants students to think creatively, outside of the box, and encourages dynamic learning in a nurturing environment. The lab is open to all interested students. Details to apply can be found here: http://www.heartofla.org/program-enrollment

February 26, 2019