Tuesday, March 26, 2019

First Microsoft Girls STEAM Challenge announced

By on March 8, 2019

To foster participation in science-, tech-, engineering-, art- and math-related disciplines

(Courtesy)

SAN JUAN – Amid International Women’s Week and to foster participation in science-, technology-, engineering-, arts- and math-related disciplines (STEAM), Microsoft Puerto Rico, alongside the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust announced the first Microsoft Girls STEAM Challenge.

While women have made strides in all professions, they still account for less than 20% in computer science and technology.

The competition, which is open to middle- and high-school students, seeks to listen to the solutions young women have to address some of the social problems affecting Puerto Rico, utilizing at least one of the STEAM branches and Microsoft technology. The categories are: Strengthening Education, Improving Health, Strengthening the Economy, Citizen Security and Sustainability of the Environment,

Keren Henríquez, director of education and corporate social responsibility for Microsoft Caribbean, said, “This initiative aims to promote strategies for problem-based learning and service-based learning, helping to develop in the students the skills and abilities of the future invaluable for their academic and professional success,” adding that by “creating an innovative project in the STEAM area, we empower students to be part of the next generation of technology heroines.”

To participate, students must devise a solution and present their proposal to solve it.
They will be asked to develop a presentation with the Microsoft Sway tool and present a video of a maximum of 2 minutes that explains and demonstrates its solution. The evaluation criteria will consider four areas: originality, methodology, presentation of the result and impact.

The evaluation committee is made up of educators from the STEAM disciplines of specialized schools of the island, as well as university professors who are experts in the same disciplines.

The prizes for the winners include a Microsoft Surface laptop for the winner of the
intermediate category and a Surface and participation in events such as the Microsoft
Education Forum 2019 and the Innovation Learning Week at Microsoft Operations headquarters in Humacao, Puerto Rico, for the winner of the superior category.

The Research Trust will award metallic prizes to first- and second-place winners as well.

“For the Science, Technology & Research Trust of P.R., it’s very important to support this initiative that is aligned with our effort to offer students, at intermediate and higher levels, the opportunity to expose themselves to the STEAM disciplines, and particularly to girls, who remain a minority in the professions of engineering, mathematics and science.

“The art in STEAM gathers all the opportunities that the creative industries offer as professional and economic development. It is the way in which from an early stage they can identify interests in the areas where there will be future jobs and the opportunity to start,” said Lucy Crespo, the trust’s chief executive.

The winning projects will be announced between May 8 and May 10 and the final competitions will be held at Microsoft in Humacao May 16 and May 17. The project and
final awards exhibition will take place during the Microsoft Education Puerto Rico Forum 2019 on May 23 at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino.

At a news conference this week, two students, Lesly Ann Rosa and Frannette Ocasio, seniors at the Dr. Carlos González School in Aguada, detailed their efforts to promote the love for computers sciences among other girls. While wearing pink shirts that read “Digit Girls,” they recalled creating the group “Coronate Princesa,” to teach about coding.

“We are only six girls at the Tech Club,” Ocasio said about the school’s technology club of about 30 students. She noted that women comprised 42% of the individuals working in math, science and statistics but less than 18% of the individuals in technology.

Rosa, meanwhile, showed reporters how to use Sway, the Microsoft program that must be used for the competition, with a presentation on the history of the binary system computer language.

“During the last years, the STEM education evolved into STEAM, which means a cutting-edge change that we are taking advantage of for the development of students. STEAM’s learning builds the skills students need, and Microsoft encourages them to discover excellent physical activities that stimulate creativity, increase curiosity and inspire
them to continue to develop,” Migdalia Bonilla, general manager of Microsoft Operations Puerto Rico, said.

To participate, students must have the guidance of a teacher mentor, parent or guardian. Registration begins Monday and runs through April 12, at AKA.MS/SGCPR.

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