The School of Informatics and Computing joined with other technology organizations at Conner Prairie, Saturday, March 8, to teach children about careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
The day-long event called Passport to Hi-Tech, was open to all ages but was targeted to girls ages 7 to 12. It featured interactive exhibits and hands-on experiments designed to inspire girls to learn more about careers in STEM fields such as informatics, engineering, biology, chemistry, manufacturing, computer science and others.
The school presented two activities to those in attendance at the interactive history park. One activity was dubbed “Ready, Set, Compute!” Participants jumped into computing and became a working part of a machine in a fast-paced game that showed what a computer did as friends played a game on it. When the players selected a move, volunteer students would race to the CPU or other parts of the simulated device to deliver a signal for action, showing what goes on in a computer game. The other activity demonstrated a Finch robot, a small, two-wheeled robot with bird-like features. Polly Baker, Ph.D., a professor of media arts and science in the Department of Human-Centered Computing, programmed the robot so it could be controlled with hand gestures, which provided the opportunity for those walking by to interact with technology.
“The robot is approachable, and young people see they can control it,” said Vicki Daugherty, a school recruiting specialist. “It’s empowering. They say to themselves, ‘Hey, I can do this.’”
Passport to Hi-Tech was organized by Women & Hi-Tech and Conner Prairie.