LITAS For Girls

Annual 2016 Newsletter

Happy holidays and best wishes from LITAS For Girls (Learning IT, Apps, and Software For Girls)! 2016 has been an exciting year for us, and we want to share some of our favorite parts with you.


Year in Review

Phoenix Summer Incubator

litas_phx_incubator

On June 20th, LITAS launched our inaugural summer incubator in computer science and entrepreneurship, the first program of its kind in Arizona. Over thirty girls from Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Chandler, and Tempe participated in the program. Through our grassroots approach, LITAS was able to provide scholarships for the incubator to a cohort of students from Homeward Bound, a local nonprofit dedicated to bettering the lives of families affected by domestic abuse.

In the six day camp, the girls learned to design their own websites, code javascript games, prototype apps, and pitch projects to a crowd of judges. Corresponding with the incubator’s theme of digital health, the girls came up with apps to do speech therapy through games, bioinformatics projects to reduce the effects of aging, and an app to help pet-owners take care of animals with cancer.

The girls pitched these projects to judges from industry and academia — including Joan Koerber-Walker, CEO of the Arizona Biotechnology Association (AZBio), Cynthia Pickering from Science Foundation Arizona, and even Phoenix’s vice-mayor, Daniel Valenzuela.

Going Global: LITAS Summer Incubator in Haryana, India

2016 was the year that LITAS For Girls went global, holding our second summer incubator in CS and entrepreneurship in Haryana, India.Through our key partnership with CLDAV Schools, Sector 11, Panchkula, LITAS For Girls’ six day summer incubator reached more than fifty girls from seventh through twelth grade. Haryana is a region of India in which girls have traditionally been disadvantaged, but which, through the actions of schools and government initiatives, is slowly making progress in this field. The girls in our International summer incubator gave us even more hope for the future, by creating apps to report female infanticide, match girls with high-paying jobs, and improve teacher quality in underprivileged schools. Many of our LITAS-ers are even continuing with their projects and applying to international science competitions!

Spreading Our Wings: Announcing the New LITAS Chapters

We’d like to give a big welcome to our new chapters and chapter leaders, both in the US and abroad. LITAS Alumni Khyati Raka, Shauda Islam, and Bhumika Phanindra launched the LITAS chapter at BASIS Chandler in October of this year, focusing on Web Design and Javascript. Arya and Maya, also LITAS Alumni, are serving as TAs for the chapter. Aside from basic Computer Science skills, the board is also determined to educate the 30+ members about the struggles women face around the world, and have started a documentary in hopes to encourage other girls to enter the STEM field. The members also enjoy visitors from important women in STEM fields and participate in engineering-based competitions.

LITAS has also started its first chapter abroad in Haryana, India, headed by chapter leaders Anisha Rajput, Lakshita Goyal, and Saakshi Sharma, with a focus on online learning. This chapter has been started through our partnership with CLDAV Schools, Sector 11, Panchkula, and includes over fifty girls from eighth through twelth grade.

Online Learning: Launch of LITAS Learn

Speaking of online learning, our next big announcement is the launch of LITAS Learn (learn.litas4girls.org). LITAS Learn is an online learning portal with step by step learning modules for several topics, including HTML/CSS, Javascript, and AppInventor. Besides lesson plans and exercises, students can also browse ideas for CS projects with a social good impact, connect with other students through forums, and more. LITAS Learn has so far been tested by our chapter leaders, and will be able to all LITAS students in 2017.

Alumni Spotlight: Vilina Mehta

A Big Congratulations to our LITAS member, Vilina Mehta, who was chosen as one of 50 National Winners of the National Center for Women in IT (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing Award from more than 3500 applicants from around the nation. Vilina receives a thousand dollar scholarship and an all-expense-paid weekend to the Bank of America headquarters in North Carolina, where she will network with top executives and other national award winners.

Vilina was also a semifinalist in the National Siemens Competition for her bioinformatics project, “Using Bioinformatics to Correlate Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) to Parkinson’s Disease (PD).”

Vilina was a part of the first after-school club of LITAS. From the NCWIT Press Release: “In this program, she learned how to use Alice, Bootstrap, and MIT App Inventor.” Vilina used MIT app inventor to develop a nutrition app, and she “presented her nutrition app as well as her research on Parkinson’s to several judges, including a VP of Intel, at the first annual LITAS technical showcase.”

In the future, Vilina hopes to apply new computational technologies to solve problems in medicine. Vilina writes that “LITAS played an important role in encouraging me to pursue CS + STEM, as it reinforced to me the idea that anyone can program to create something that can have an impact.”

We are very proud of Vilina and excited to see what the future holds for her!

Upcoming Opportunities

Calling all STEM and Computer Science Projects! Enter our Technology Showcase

Been working on a cool app since you finished LITAS? Do you think your project could make a real impact on someone’s life?

Present your project at the 2017 LITAS Technology Showcase on April 1st, 2017 (not an April Fool’s joke!). Come present your projects to judges who are leaders in STEM in their respective fields, from industry, academia, and even government. Check out pictures and a blog post from our 2015-2016 tech showcase here. For details about this year’s showcase, register here by Friday, March 17th.

More things that you could do with your project– send us a short blurb about your project and we’ll feature it on the LITAS website! Also make sure you submit your project to the local science fair in the spring; if you’re in middle school, your project could be chosen for the Broadcom Masters Competition. If you’re in high school, you could be chosen for the Intel International Science and Engineering fair.

Video Contest

LITAS is planning to collaborate with colleges to hold a unique Computer Science and STEM Video Contest in 2017. We’re challenging kids to make educational videos for other kids, on topics dedicated to increasing diversity in STEM. Stay tuned for more details and official announcements!

Apply to be a part of the 2017 Summer Incubator Planning Team


Passionate about helping guide young women in computer science and STEM? Apply to be a part of our planning team for the 2017 incubators! If you are interested, contact us today for an application.

Sponsors

We couldn’t have done all this without our 2016 sponsors and partners. A big thank you to them!


Does your organization want to be featured here? Contact us for sponsorship opportunities.

Support LITAS For Girls! Donate Now

Support LITAS For Girls as we help hundreds of girls around the world realize their potential in Science, Technology, and Computer Science.

LITAS For Girls is a 501(c)(3) organization. Your gift is fully tax-deductible.

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