Ms. Jackie & the STEM girls

Conversations with STEM Club Girls

Cherish has a chance to learn from failing – and trying again! – in STEM Club with Ms. Jackie.

Whether it’s scratch coding, hands-on lab activities, DIY engineering, or Recycling and Sustainability Club, Ms. Jackie tries to find ways to incorporate some fun into STEM programming and make it seem less intimidating. She recognizes the importance of mentorship and the need for all women, especially Black and Latina women, to see themselves represented in STEM professions.

While STEM can be challenging, confusing, and even frustrating at times, those moments where you actually find the solution to a problem you were stuck on or get something to work the way it’s supposed to make it all worthwhile. The most important nugget of wisdom she hopes the girls take away from all of this is that it’s okay to fail sometimes! Failing is an integral part of the scientific process.

Ms. Jackie credits Ms. Bickley, her 6th grade science teacher, for sparking her interest in the sciences and hopes to do the same for the girls (shout out to Ms. Bickley if you’re reading this).

Desirae taking on a coding challenge.

We interviewed two 5th graders from robotics club and here is what they had to say:

Desirae Mitchell:

What do you enjoy the most about working with the mbots robots?

“I enjoy when I learn how to make my mbots do things other people can’t.”

What do you do when you get stuck on a coding problem?

“I try again and if that doesn’t work I ask a friend or

a teacher for help.”

What advice do you have for other girls who want to learn block-based coding?

“If you want to succeed at something always follow your heart and

don’t let others say what you can’t or can do.”

Cherish McGhee:

What do you enjoy the most about working with the mbots?

“I think they are very fun and cool.”

What do you do when you get stuck on a coding problem?

“Ask a friend or reread it again.”

What advice do you have for other girls who want to learn block code?

“To have fun but also pay attention!”

[and thanks to Cox for donating the mbots!]

Ms. Maddie keeps it moving.

My name is Madeleine Dangerfield – Ms. Maddie – and I have been working with Girls Inc. since February of 2020. My role here at Girls Inc. is Sport and Fitness Specialist, which allows me to create sport programming and organize sport teams for the girls. I have been playing sports since the age of 8 and understand how being physically active can have a positive influence on a girl’s life. 

Starting at the end of February we will begin registration for Girls Inc. 2022 spring sports. The sports being offered will be soccer for 1st-6th grade and volleyball for 3rd-8th grade. At the current time Girls Inc. offers basketball, gymnastics, fitness club, and healthy cooking. In the summer we had ten different sports clubs and 5 camps – there is so much variety for the girls to choose from.

I love working with the girls every day and showing them the passion I have for sports. I am excited to get started for our spring season and hope to see both returning and new faces on the field! 

Fun Fact about Ms. Maddie: In middle school she played every single sport offered, even wrestling! [Ms. Roberta says, “Photos, Ms. Maddie, or it didn’t happen…]

Here’s How You Help!

Due to the pandemic, we cannot serve girls safely in our centers. We ARE serving girls virtually – with art, reading, dance, and more. Our counselors are available for Calming Calls. Because quarantine birthdays can be a drag, we are delivering birthday treat bags. We deliver art supplies and yoga mats for virtual classes. And on Fridays, we deliver Snackalicious because the girls look forward to the happy ritual (and the Hot Cheetos!). We’re delivering cleaning supplies, soap, and masks to help keep girls healthy and safe.

>> Go to SHARE Omaha to make a donation or purchase supplies for girls.

Field Trips at Girls Inc.

While most summer days Girls Inc. members spend their time in centers, engaging in educational and hands-on activities, being able to venture off the campus can be exciting and refreshing. Among the many activities that happen at Girls Inc., field trips are a great way for the girls to experience new, exciting scenery, as well as the opportunity to experience a new learning environment. On these field trips, the girls are able to expand their minds and engage with their surroundings.

In the month of June alone, girls had the opportunity to attend field trips to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, Lauritzen Gardens, the Durham Museum and many more. July field trip offerings included Mahoney State Park, Union Pacific Railroad Museum, the Omaha Children’s Museum, and Arbor Day Farm. Field trips usually group the girls up into approproate age/grade groups and include a strong ratio of adult-to-girl chaperones in order to ensure safety along with the fun and education.

These field trips are educational, but they are also an important chance for the girls to relax and have fun – to be kids! Field trips create the foundation for a fun and enticing summer for girls in both centers in North and South Omaha.

Larger field trips at Girls Inc are funded by the Peter Kiewit Foundation which allows the many more girls to attend. Transportation is also always provided for the field trips through the support of the Foundation, which ensures access for all girls to attend.

Eureka! Externships at Girls Inc.

At Girls Inc. girls have many opportunities to be succeed and one of the most impactful opportunities is the Eureka! STEM (Science, Tecnology, Engineering, and Math) program. Eureka! was founded in 1988 at a California Girls Inc. affiliate to help older participants of Girls Inc. succssfully access college and other post-secondary education in order to transition to independent, self-sufficient adulthood. Girls Inc. of Omaha is one of the fourteen Girls Inc. affiliates to offer this program.

The Eureka! program, which is free for participating girls, is split into three parts; Summer Camp; externships; and college and scholarship prep. Girls begin the Eureka! program as rising 8th graders with a STEM Camp at University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO). The camp runs for two summers, spanning into the girls’ 9th grade year. The camps, which run the full month of June on the UNO campus, provide the girls with STEM education and hands-on challenges in computing, robotics, aerodynmaics, engineering, biology, botany, and more. The girls learn from professionals in those fields and UNO professors, graduate students, and interns. They also gain experience in health, leadership, advocacy, and personal development. While at the camp, the girls get a chance to take swimming lessons, either learning to swim or to improve their existing swimming skills. After the camps, the girls participate in monthly STEM and/or social experiences throughout the school year. They participate in field trips that include the Henry Doorly Zoo and watching the Sandhill Crane migration in Wood River, Nebraska, and they also go to the movies and have sleepovers.

In their 10th and 11th grade years, the girls participate in what is known as an externship. In this program, they gain real-world experience working in a field of their interest. Some companies are gracious enough to donate a stipend for the girls, so not only are they gaining experience in the work field, they also earning compensation for their time. Girls Inc. provides transportation to and from externship sites if needed. The externshop experience has given many girls an opportunity to see themselves in the professional field of their dreams, and empowered and helped them attain their career goals.

Prior to and during 12th grade, the girls work on college readiness. They complete FAFSA student aid forms, work on scholarship essays, research school choices online, tour campuses, and speak with financial aid officcers.

Girls Inc. graduated its eighth cohort of girls from Eureka! in 2019 and they will be the third cohort to head to college in the fall.

Thanks to all of the companies that hosted girls as externs for 2019. Below is a complete list of those companies:

Aquaponics at Girls Inc.

Chickens are not the only animals being raised at Girls Inc. When you venture around the different buildings, on the second floor, there is a room marked aquaponics. Aquaponics is not a word you encounter every day and when looking at it from the outside, it looks quite complicated. Though it seems intricate, it is simply comes down to the idea that the plants and fish are growing and living together in one environment. The fish make food for the plants to eat and in return, the plants clean the water that the fish live in. It is a constant cycle that ensures that both organisms have a healthy life. This programs helps not only create a fun learning environment for the girls, but turns science into a fun way for the girls to learn about life and biology. Girls are able to feed the fish and water the plants, learning how to properly care for the environment in which the organisms can thrive!

New Additions to Girls Inc.

There have been some new faces added to the Girls Inc. community. On June 20th, one of the Girl Inc. chickens, Mr. Joe as named by the girls, hatched five baby chicks. The baby chicks are adored by all and visited on a daily basis. Last summer, the building of a chicken coup began, which would provide a home for the chickens. Having these chickens on the campus has provided the students with the opportunity to have something that they can nourish and care for. They feed them and, along with Mr. Michael, make sure that the chickens are comfortable in their home and live a good life.