Graduate Student Outreach Committee at Tech Savvy

Three Geography graduate students volunteered on Sunday May 14, at Tech Savvy, a daylong conference held at UC Santa Barbara. This conference gives girls in grades six through nine an opportunity to explore STEM education and related careers through hands-on workshops. These workshops were created and run by Geography Graduate students Nina Bingham, Susan Meerdink, and Rafael Ramos who represented the UCSB Department of Geography’s Visibility and Outreach committee.

The workshop titled “Selfies from Space” introduced girls to Landsat and aerial imagery through a trivia game. This workshop encouraged girls to explore how we are using ‘selfies’ taken from space to study our one of a kind planet and to flip through Earth’s own ‘instagram’ to see how places change over time. Girls worked through 10 different stations where they had to figure out what happened in the images or guess what they were looking at in the imagery. The workshop emphasized the various areas of science that use satellite and aerial imagery and future careers that the participants could pursue.

“I really enjoyed interacting with the young girls and parents through satellite and aerial imagery”, said Susan, who helped lead and design the project. “Tech Savvy is a great way to introduce these girls to geography and get them excited about science.” Nina concurs saying, “I think being excited about learning is important to staying involved in science. So seeing the girls break out of their shells and really get into the experiments we had them doing was rewarding.”

Supported at UCSB by the Women’s Center and Women in Science and Engineering, Tech Savvy is a program of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). This year’s Tech Savvy is the third to take place at UCSB. It is among 18 conferences in 2017 across the United States and only two in California. This is the third year that the Geography department through the Outreach committee has participated.