EMU Digital Divas, a series of programs founded 11 years ago at EMU with the goal of promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to middle and high school girls, have teamed up with Ypsilanti District Libraries (YDL) in partnership with five organizations to hand out five specialized kits to kids in the Ypsilanti community.
Several project kits have been delivered to students in the Ypsilanti area to peak interest in science and technology.
The objective of these project kits is to introduce STEM to school aged children in a stress free environment where they can have fun and create while also learning and retaining useful information that could be beneficial to them in the future.
“It's infusing terminology and hands on application to these kids in the back of their minds. It’s going to stick even if they don’t know exactly what we’re doing,“ said Bia Hamed, the Digital Divas Program Director, she continued, “The future is technology, let’s not kid ourselves. Even knowing the terminology is a big deal and that's what these stem kits are helping with and they are introducing different careers to these kids.”
A total of five STEM kits will have been delivered and distributed to the kids by the first week of August. Each kit was designed by the five partnered organizations (Ford Labs, GameAbove, Dominos, GE, and the EMU Construction Management Alumni Group). These teach the kids useful information in regards to stem.
The kit developed by Ford Labs, one of the five partners, Abbey Knick, a former EMU student who previously volunteered with the Digital Divas, said, “We gave them a product - build a car, and then we gave them what they were measuring, we chose the distance and then we encouraged how do you test?; How do you repeat a process and see improvements and growth in your product because that's what we do in our workplace. We work in software, we gave them a very physical thing to build but the process is still the same - creating a product.”
The kits are being distributed by the Ypsilanti District Libraries, through their Summer Challenge Champions program, the library’s formal outreach program that partners with camps and daycares to bring the library to kids who are unable to go because they are at camp.
“Having these kits has been great because they are high quality, educational and contain useful material that can be used in a number of ways and that can help kids keep learning,” said Stacey Palazzolo, an outreach librarian who developed the Summer Challenge Champion program being used to distribute the STEM kits to the kids. “So far the response from the kids has been great, they love them.”
In 2020 the Digital Divas’ planned on doing live after school programs at five metro Detroit middle schools for eighth graders, the grade where most girls lose interest in STEM. Due to the pandemic, they had to pivot and turn it into a virtual program. "At the end of it we got letters from the kids saying they were no longer intimidated by STEM because they took it on and did it. They know what it’s about where before they didn’t and didn’t even want to try it. So that was positive," Hamed said.
"The library wanted to initially do something along the lines of a stem kit and even applied for a grant but, didn’t receive it. Getting the kits from EMU was an unexpected surprise that helped out a lot," Palazzolo said, “ I mean this is excellent, I'm so happy that we have these stem kits to give out. I wanted to do this before this was something we could do and now It just sort of happened and really I can't thank EMU enough for what they're doing.”
“I’m grateful to the community partners, let’s keep it going. It doesn't have to stop, it can go into the fall, it can go year round,” Hamed said.