Girls Get IT!

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

There’s no stopping Savannah Loberger when she gets an idea.

The Hillsboro High School junior-to-be designed and organized a camp this week for girls only: Girls Get IT (Innovative Technology) at Hilhi.

The week-long, half-day camp for girls in grades 7-12 focuses on STEM education — science, technology, engineering and math.

But more importantly for Loberger is the low-pressure learning environment where girls can have fun while learning about the world of engineering.

“At my robotics club at school, I was the only girl,” Loberger said. Her goal is to introduce girls to computers, engineering and robotics and get them interested. “I want to see more girls in engineering.”

Forty girls signed up for the camp and have been eating up computer-aided design software and RobotC, software for programming robots at an intense pace that surprised even Loberger.

The girls blazed through one-third of the RobotC curriculum on Wednesday, she said.

During the week, they’ve also eaten a cake they made using drills as hand blenders and done science projects.

Loberger has thought of everything, including familiarizing girls with tools, technology and the lingo.

Today, the last day of the camp, is career day.

Loberger will bring in women working in various fields of science, technology and engineering to speak to the girls about their career paths and what it takes to become a professional in the field.

“I want girls to feel confident in an overwhelmingly male environment,” she said. “We’re creating that bridge.”

She’s enlisted the help of many businesses and sponsors, including the Hillsboro School District, FEI, Intel, Software Association of Oregon, TechStart Education Foundation, Nike and Freewire.

The idea for and the implementation of Girls Get IT will earn Loberger a Girl Scout Gold Award, the high award in Girls Scouts, similar to the Eagle award in Boy Scouts.

She estimates she’s spent more than 100 hours on the prep work. And that just since May, by the way, when the robotics season ended and she got to work on this project.

Hilhi technology teacher Don Domes is acting as her project advisor.

“The girls have been having a lot of fun,” Loberger says. For her part, she has enjoyed the whole process and says she plans to offer the camp again next summer and beyond.

Kathy Fuller is a news reporter for the Hillsboro Argus. She can be reached at