Tracking Monarch butterflies on their route from Toronto to the Mexican border might be just what a 12-year-old girl needs to spark daydreams about growing up to design her own micro RFID chip.
Twenty five girls between the ages of 12 and 13 released a group of microchipped butterflies last week, one of several activities on the roster this year at IBM Canada Inc.’s 3-day E.X.I.T.E. camp.
Hosted every summer the IBM Toronto Lab in Markham, Ont., E.X.I.T.E. encourages pre-teen girls to take an interest in technology and engineering and inspire them to pursue further studies in high school. School counselors and teachers nominate camp participants for the IBM-funded program, which is restricted to females in grades seven and eight.
This year, the girls created robots out of legos and programmed them to dance, performed DNA experiments on bananas and searched for film canisters filled with stickers and quiz questions using GPS. Other activities included learning about green technology and developing cartoon animations using Scratch, a 3D programming language with a graphical interface.
“It’s designed to give them positive female role models in the technology and engineering fields, to give them an idea of hands-on approaches to learning about these areas and to encourage them to pursue and explore careers in these areas,” said Sarah Naqvi, co-chair of the E.X.I.T.E. Camp in Toronto.
Naqvi, who works in software support engineering at the IBM Toronto Software lab, looks forward to the program every year. “We see the rewards down the road, when you see girls who have been through the program for several years and are pursuing education in these areas. It’s something fun for everyone involved,” she said.