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IBM inspires girls to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

HURSLEY, U.K - 05 Jul 2013: This week IBM's (NYSE: IBM) development laboratory near Winchester hosted 100 Year 8 girls (aged 12-13), from ten different Hampshire and Dorset schools during a two day camp known as think.IT. The aim of the camp, which is repeated twice over the week and started on Tuesday 2nd July, is to encourage girls to continue studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and eventually consider careers within the IT industry.


Split into teams so that no two girls from the same school worked together, the girls were tasked with designing and marketing a brand new product, this year in the field of Data Analytics, before presenting their idea to a team of judges in the form of IBM executives and IBM Master Inventors. Data Analytics uses technology to help us take more informed decisions by extracting valuable information from Big Data - the unimaginable amounts of data that are being generated each day, not just by computers but by everyday devices and even people.

The camps began with a brainstorming session during which the girls explored ideas, and selected one to take to market. The girls were then taught the basics of marketing and the importance of branding and applied this knowledge to their product by creating a brand logo and slogan. They also created a mock-up for a web page. Team building exercises and mentoring on presentation skills helped them prepare for their final presentation to the judges.

Cllr Ian Richards, the Mayor of Romsey, who attended one of the camps said: "I found think.IT a very good exercise in getting young girls to work together with excellent results, considering they had not known each other prior to the event. IBM provided an opportunity for young girls to look at, first hand, what could be possible for future careers rather than following traditional routes of female employment. A bonus to the exercise is the additional life skills and confidence the two days give to a young person.  All the schools should be proud of their 'Ambassadors' who took part."

Southampton University also ran an educational activity for the girls involving Raspberry Pi computers, in which they learnt how to write a program to exchange secret messages between pairs of computers using sound and light. In the other complementary activity, Murder Mystery, teams explored the historic Hursley House using specially designed software, logic and good communication skills to solve a 'crime'.

Mark Mortell, Senior Curriculum Leader from Highcliffe School added: “Traditionally ICT and Computing is seen as a male dominated area and this is something we aim to challenge at Highcliffe.  Engaging both genders in ICT and Computing has been a priority area within the ICT Curriculum Area this year and the IBM think.IT event formed an important part of our work. 

The girls who attended the event did so because they have chosen to study ICT or Computing at GCSE Level next year and we have used this event to form a lunchtime club where the girls have been programming with Raspberry Pi’s.

Having spoken to the girls after the event they are all enthused about potential ICT careers and have all expressed their thanks for being able to attend the event.  Several of the girls now attend after school programming clubs and have brought friends along.”

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