Tech Savvy Conference 2018

Photo Courtesy of Rafael Ramos


On Saturday April 7, geography graduate students participated in Tech Savvy, a daylong conference 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. UCSB Department of Geography’s Visibility and Outreach committee members Sari Blakeley, Susan Meerdink, Amelia Pludow, and Rafael Ramos created and ran one of these workshops.

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 place change over time. Girls worked through 10 different stations where they had to figure out what happened or guess what they were looking at in images. The workshop emphasized the various areas of science that use satellite and aerial imagery and future careers that the participants could pursue.

“It was fun watching the girls guess what the aerial images were, sometimes they figured it out on the first guess,” said Sari, who helped lead the project. “I remember my experience in middle school at a similar event, it definitely pushed me towards the sciences in high school and beyond. I hope it does the same for these girls.” Amelia agrees saying, “Seeing it click for the girls when they figured out what they were looking at was really great. It was a fun experiment that hopefully piqued their interest in geography.”

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 20 conferences in 2018 across the United States and only two in California. This is the fourth year that the Geography department through the Outreach committee has participated.

Article written by Geography graduate student Susan Meerdink