The times are changing, and the 3D print industry is no longer just for men. Women, too, are great assets and bring different perspectives and ideas to the table. Continuing with advocating for the growth of women in the industry, Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard start them young by inviting Mary Hadley, the CEO of MakerGirl, to talk about virtual 3D print education that inspires girls of all ages. Mary shares with us the MakerGirl workshop and how they are conducting it virtually amidst this pandemic. What is more, Tracy also invites her eleven-year-old daughter, Lannea, to share her experience taking the virtual MakerGirl workshop.
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Virtual 3D Print Education That Inspires Girls of All Ages with Mary Hadley, CEO of Makergirl
We’ve got an exciting second interview. You might call it a follow up that we didn’t even know we were going to have. It’s a nice surprise to talk with Mary Hadley of MakerGirl again about what they’re doing now and it has evolved.
We talked to her a few years ago. MakerGirl is this very interesting organization that was working with what they call ChangeMakers. I called them the Big Sisters. The girls in college who might be interested in creating community outreach programs, making sure that younger girls have a leg up, STEAM education and things like that. They created these academies. They were all circulating around different universities. They had to go virtual just like everything else.
Many of us did. We had to go virtual come March of 2020. It presented a lot of challenges.
This is interesting because everyone is being challenged with how to teach science, technology, engineering, math and art. I’m going to add that in here because it’s a significant problem right now that these things are falling to the wayside. Even our daughter who’s eleven and in sixth grade, her science class has no labs. They aren’t having an art class. While they’re solving the minimum educational problem virtually right now in their virtual academies, they’re not adding in these great programs. MakerGirl has a great opportunity of supplementing that in addition to showing our administrators, our schools, how to do this. How you can do this and keep girls engaged, which will keep boys engaged. How you can do that at a level that is helpful. The benefit of it is that they didn’t have to work and figure out the whole system.
They didn’t have to figure out, how am I going to teach? How do I learn how to do Zoom? They figured out, how do we do this exact one thing we already do live and yet do it virtual? They had an advantage because they got to work on that one thing all summer long until they could launch. What they’re doing that’s exciting is they have these virtual workshops. Some of them are in the evenings or late in the day and on the weekends. Our daughter, Lannea, our eleven-year-old, took one on a Sunday morning on Fashion Accessories. She had an interesting and fun time trying out, but it was the topic and the idea that there were these college-age girls teaching it and not some old guy, not their dad. That’s what excited her and interested her. Before we go to the interview with Mary Hadley, the CEO of MakerGirl, I want to cut in and let you know a little bit about Lannea’s experience.
Lannea, you took a virtual MakerGirl workshop. Which ones did you take?
I took the 3D printing Fashion Accessories.
Was it fun?
It was fun.
Tell me about how the workshop ran.
What we did was we learned how to use the system and then we use it to create accessories.
The CAD system you’re talking about?
How did they set that up? Who was teaching it?
I do not remember the specific names, but there were multiple teachers that were helping us get into a class. You can make a class inside the website.
Like a Breakout?
Were they young? Were they studying 3D printing? Did they say anything?
They were in college. Some of them may be in senior in high school, I believe.
They were young women. Did they get you excited about 3D printing?
What did you make?
I made a ring. I was going to make a bracelet, but sometimes it’s a little hard to connect to the pieces because it has to be connected or else it will come off and it won’t stay.
You had a little challenge in the time span of trying to make all the pieces fit together the way you wanted it to do?
That’s a little challenging. You ended up making a ring and we haven’t gotten it in the mail yet, but I’m sure we will. We’ll add a photo of it when we do. What did you learn about 3D printing when you were doing that, that you hadn’t already known?
I learned that you can take one shape and you can make it another by adding stuff on it or taking out a chunk of the piece.
You can transform shapes?
Yes. If I took a square, I can take out a corner. It could be like a flat little thing.
Do you learn stuff about geometry and math?
Lannea’s thing is that she doesn’t want to learn stuff on the weekend, but somehow you got a learning. You spend a lot of time in your classes, you have a hybrid model at your school where you do virtual and one school starts live. You’ll do a little bit live, but are you getting anything that’s science lab-like, or this making experience that you used to get in school when you would do art classes or other things?In the MakerGirl experience, you watch your print come to life. Click To Tweet
Do you mean when we would make stuff instead of just learning about it?
We started using this program called Twig Science and some of the activities do mix up, but they didn’t make us start until we’re back in school.
There’s the challenge of it is that you’re not quite getting that same making experience and doing things. There’s a lot of lecturing. That’s how it feels in school now. That was the benefit then of the MakerGirl experience for you is that you were doing while you were learning at the same time. Would you recommend other girls to take the MakerGirl workshops?
Would you take another one?
Thank you, Lannea. I appreciate you sharing your experience with us. I’m going to interview Mary Hadley, the CEO of MakerGirl so that we can learn some more about what she’s doing.
Mary, welcome back to the show.
It’s great to be back.
I cannot tell you how excited I was that you are pushing out and working even harder and faster on your workshops because it’s necessary right now. As a mom of an eleven-year-old, who discovered that while you’re in the virtual academy, there isn’t much science. There’s not a lot of STEAM. I’m glad you are pushing forward with this program.
We’re super excited to offer it virtually. It’s not just where our academies are but now anywhere.
We got in touch with you a few years ago. You were starting the academies. The way that it was working was college students would start an academy and then they would go outreach into the community and find younger girls to mentor, to bring into the programs. How many did you open?
We opened six.
Where are they?
They’re at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Michigan was supposed to open right before COVID hits, that one was postponed. We have an academy in the Boston area with students from MIT, Harvard and Hult. We also have an academy in the San Francisco area with students from a couple of different schools in that area as well.
You’re expanding even though some things are on hold. You had to do some shifting. What was that like? How did the organization take that in and say, “How can we continue to move forward our mission?”
Right away, when we canceled all of our in-person sessions, we decided what could be the first thing we do for an online offering before then we had nothing online. We decided to prerecord our sessions and start posting YouTube videos of our sessions or different activities that ChangeMakers started from either their home office or their college dorm room, and get anything we needed up like STEM offerings for parents that were looking for something during this time. Around May and June, we decided what could the MakerGirl’s journey look like virtually. We worked hard to modify our session down from two hours to one hour and start to have Zoom calls where we could bring in girls and do Breakout rooms. That was the way that we could do our designing process.
Your mission is to connect up by the end of 2020 with 3,000 girls countrywide. You’re just getting started. What is the biggest challenge to doing that?
What we’re finding as the biggest challenge is finding the girls to show up to the sessions. With school being virtual for many across the country, there’s a little bit of online burnout. It could be that. We’re offering our sessions, not only on weeknights but also on weekends. Some students have found that if they’re going to school virtually for the whole day, then they might not want to do an afterschool program again online. We’re just finding that sweet spot. We’re talking to a lot of parents and figuring out what works best for their students so that way, we can shift our offerings throughout the semester to accommodate for that.
That’s true. They’re on their computers all the time right now.
I’m still shocked many times how our daughter doesn’t seem like she’s burned out about being online. She’d be like, “What else can I do?”
It’s like, “What can I make in Minecraft now?” There’s a certain age group that is excited to stay online as much as possible. Our youngest has discovered that there is a computer as opposed to a tablet because she’s six and that YouTube is fascinating. We’re about to head into trouble there, and she would stay on all the time. She timed out on the computer and she was mad that I had set it for five hours. I was like, “You were on your computer for five hours.” I do see how that’s a challenge for you, but you do have great connections into the communities already with that. There is that personal one-on-one that started. It’s unfortunate like in Michigan, you didn’t get that far into it. How is that community rallying?
We’re working hard with either the elementary schools or the middle schools that we’ve worked with in the past to try to give them this offering either through their school newsletters or working with teachers that we’ve gone straight into their classrooms and said, “This is an offering.” We can make it virtual, whether it’s offering it at home with your students or trying to build it into your classroom as well.
I’d love the idea of building it right into the classroom curriculum because that would be nice, broad, and helpful. The classes are interesting because you’ve chosen topics that excite girls, like the one Lannea took was fashion accessories. I didn’t have to work that hard to entice her to take the class on a Sunday morning.
We offered twenty different themes. Since all of our sessions are still that one-off session, that intro, we’ve been trying to still figure out what themes make girls excited. Also, what’s an interesting way to show them how 3D printing is used throughout many different industries. They don’t have to think about it just in manufacturing, but it’s also being used in the fashion world or the art world and blending those together.
They don’t have to have a 3D printer. That’s the great thing about how you develop this program. Tell us about how you had to orchestrate that.
When we decided to go virtually, the number one thing was in the MakerGirl experience, you watch your print come to life. How are we going to make your print come to life at home? We decided this summer when we piloted our program just to print all of the prints that we had with our 3D printers and start mailing them to each participant. That way, they’ll still receive their 3D item that’s unique. That way we can continue our MakerGirl experience, which is not only designing on the computer but also receiving it a few weeks after.
You’ve got to have a 3D print cam like a Panda Cam. I bet they love this too like, “Mine is on. I’m logging in and watching it.”
That would be a good idea.
That would be fun because that’s a fascinating part. Whenever we run the 3D printer here, they’re always like, “What are you printing? What are you doing?”
You can even set up a video or a stop motion camera to document it, not that it would be live that you could access into, but that you could send them a video of their item being printed later.
We haven’t thought about that right now, but it’s where we were putting the printers. Our ChangeMakers were either taking their printers into their homes or their apartments. It’s up to them if they wanted to film that but that’s a great idea for the ones at least I have.If people can continue to create that connection virtually, they're going to open up the world. Click To Tweet
You’ve got such a good community build going on. It’s hard to be consistent about it. You’re not partnered up with a facility at this time, but that’s probably the future for you. We post an article on social that there’s a lot of revenue down in the facilities and volume down in the facilities that are running 3D printers. They’ve got excess capacity and that would be a great social outreach into the communities if they were running the printers and maybe doing some videos, which would help promote the fact that they have these local services for people. That’s the future for where you are. You already have that great big sister environment that I have always loved going on. If we can get a little bit more community participation and school participation, that MakerGirl has so much to offer what’s missing in the programs now.
I’m curious as you went virtual, what was the biggest surprise you encountered that you maybe didn’t expect? I know you had concerns about a lot of things going virtual, but what surprised you the most?
My biggest concern going in was cutting it down from two hours to one hour and still making sure that we could provide the same experience that we had. Whether that is 60 minutes too long to sit in front of the computer as an afterschool offering. We found that 60 minutes was a sweet spot since we were able to continuously keep the kids engaged. Whether it’s asking different questions, utilizing the Breakout rooms, letting them lead to make it their own experience. That was what I found most surprising is that it worked well. That kids knew how to use it like mute themselves or unmute themselves well. They’re teachers in April and May. I was like, “This is amazing. Thank you, everyone, for helping them get to this point.” Since I went on our mobile tour a few years back, I used to have to teach kids how to even use a mouse. They’ve past that, now they’re onto being skilled at Zoom and all of that different offerings. I thought that was my biggest surprise is watching six-year-olds unmute themselves better than I’ve seen as professionals do.
I agree with you on that one. My clients could use some lessons from the kids. Before our interview here, we’ve aired that little comment that Lannea made about her experience. One thing that she mentioned to me as she would love to see was that it was hard for her to be as creative as she wanted to be in that one-hour timeframe. It felt a little pressure like, “What do I create? What do I make? I don’t have time to think about it.” Also, she was like, “What did everybody else do? I didn’t get to see that.” I think maybe there’s some little touch base that’s like, “Your group is getting together again to share their ideas or their group is getting a pre-call.” There might be some extra touchpoints that get them to bond together and get the creative process flowing a little bit so that you aren’t lengthening that time, but you are giving them time for the creative process because that’s the hard part. Even I would be sitting back going, “I will sketch something and I’ve got to draw it out in an hour?” It would daunt me.
That’s something we’ve been thinking about too, is giving them a starter base. For our fashion, for example, maybe we’re all going to build a ring together, but you’re going to make unique touches to it. Whether you’re inserting your name on it or adding a couple of different either pieces that maybe the next person isn’t adding. You still have that base that way. It’s not for maybe ten minutes you’re like, “I have no idea what I’m going to make.” That’s something that we’ve been considering as well as starting with a starter-base. Let’s all build it together, ask the questions there and then make it unique in your own capacity as well.
Give them a little bit of time to think, process, and work through it at the same time. I liked that and she would enjoy that as well. She said that was the thing. She was like, “I wished I had done this.” It was after the fact she didn’t think about it. Putting a little more thought in it would be good. This is challenging what we’re all doing because it’s such a visual media and hands-on. When you were doing the classes and the workshops, you had that time to interact individually and help them understand what they’re doing, but here they’re watching, they can ask questions, but you’re not always seeing their screen and what they’re working on. It’s a tough teaching environment.
When we’ve done sessions in the past, if they weren’t fully understanding the concept, we would grab their mouse, show it to them and then undo so they could then repeat what we did, and then ask if that worked out for them. What’s a big challenge is just having art Tinkercad up, and when they have a question, trying to build their question first to be like, “This is how you solve it.” Since we can’t always see their screens, we try to build our screen to look like theirs and then go through it. Something else I’ve found is that sometimes kids have trouble switching tabs, whether it’s on Zoom or it’s on Tinkercad. The software we use. They sometimes can only hear us. They’re talking to us and trying to build their design since they didn’t switch back to Zoom where I am showing them on my screen what I’m doing. That was another challenge when we were piloting.
We’ve discovered this as the common problem in school.
This is where we’re starting to see now more people purchase an additional monitor to hook up to their computers. They can then have you on one screen and Tinkercad on the other. I know that’s a bit of an advanced thing for a lot of people, but I’m seeing this happen more and more in other ways.
That’s what Lannea asked us for. She wanted it more for Minecraft and Roblox and some things that she’s doing, but it would have been useful in the same process. We have thought of it as letting her try out one of the tri-screen things that we have. We could have done that sooner, but that’s a great idea. You have all taken on the challenge of reaching four times more girls than you normally reach in a traditional model. Plus, most of your mentors are all dealing with their own shifted college experience or shifted experience themselves. How did that happen? How did everyone say like, “No, we’re going to take this challenge and we’re going to 4x it?”
What we loved about trying this new scaling model is that we got to use everyone from all across the different academies and different students that maybe we’re trying to build a MakerGirl Academy at their school and all wanted to hop onboard for this Virtual Academy/Our National Plan. They were excited to not be able to cross into other ChangeMakers from other groups and all work together, rather than just working with their team at their school. That’s one way that people got excited is that while we’re all on this virtual time, they could then meet all these ChangeMakers, whether they’re in different time zones or at different universities, and be able to build a unique way that MakerGirl is going to go forward for this time at least.
That sounds interesting. They got to have an opportunity to use their interest in 3D printing and STEM education or STEAM education in this case because there’s a lot of art in what you do. For that, as the bonding and networking experience for them in this place where they might be feeling a little bit isolated themselves. That has an even greater benefit to the whole program.
That’s something that because of other experiences we’ve had, Tracy, since the whole pandemic has started, it doesn’t surprise me that going virtual has presented some opportunities, not just been sacrificing some things. I agree if you could be there in person, there are many advantages to that. On the flip side of that, there are some unique opportunities to doing this virtually. The number of people that you have the ability to reach and bring into it is one of them.
That’s what we found too. We had girls that signed up from Hawaii and we have never been to Hawaii nor have we had a MakerGirl Academy in the pipeline for that. It was exciting to see places that we would never have traveled in the next two years or so be able to join our sessions like this quickly.
I’m sure a trip to Hawaii is in the plan.
Whenever you don’t have to be quarantined for two weeks or maybe because you have to quarantine for two weeks, a trip is in the plan. That sounds like more fun. What is the bigger MakerGirl mission? What is the bigger plan? You’re going to reach all these girls across the country. You’re helping with your ChangeMakers, where is that going?
Our big plan is to have every girl in the United States identify as a MakerGirl. With that plan being through virtual, hopefully, we can have our MakerGirl Goes Mobile one day and restart up, which is when we pack up all our 3D printers and take it in our van and U-Haul attachment all-around to different rural communities. Just continuing to open up these academies at different universities to give these to not only university students and have an awesome experience, but making it more of a community experience to them.
I agree with you that I wanted to become a part of everybody’s language like, “I’ll just 3D print that.” I love that our girls have that perspective, that it’s a common thing. We’re extreme users here and not everybody is. I would love for that to become a part of your education plan like, “We could just 3D print that.”
Something else we saw too is a lot of girls were joining this summer who had 3D printers in their home, but they used to download any STL file and then go from there. They finally got to create their own and their parents didn’t even realize that’s something that they wanted to do. It was exciting to see that creation being happened. Now, they can continue to almost 3D print anything that they want in their home.
I’m sorry that was that much of a surprise notion to some of the parents. Kids always want to create things, whether it’s play dough or painting or whatever, why wouldn’t they want to make their own 3D print? I don’t know. Maybe that’s converted that’s talking here.The MakerGirl experience is not only about designing on the computer but also receiving it a few weeks after. Click To Tweet
Mary, I’m glad you came on the show to talk to us about what’s going on and how you are staying current. I glad you’re out there advocating for expanding this education because it is one of the things that is hurting in that virtual experiences. You’re bringing in that maker’s side of it. You’re showing teachers, educators, administrators and communities that this can be done, and it can be done well. It can get girls excited, which means that it can get boys excited too. It’s going to create a much more universal and robust active learning process in the future. That’s the positive thing about this forced change into the virtual realm.
I’m excited to continue offering our virtual programming as much as we can and get as many people excited about 3D printing in the process.
I hope you open up sometime soon too, so you all can get live networking. We’re all looking forward to that again. Thank you for providing great virtual experiences for our daughters.
Thank you for having me.
Virtual 3D Print Education That Inspires Girls of All Ages — Final Thoughts
Tracy, we’ve experienced some other things during this global pandemic where other things have had to go virtual and other things that we do. I’ve had some personal experience with my exercise that being forced out of a gym. I had a dynamic group of people I’ve exercised with since back in 1999 and 2000, but then nobody could exercise in the gym. All of a sudden everybody’s saying, “We don’t know how long this is going to be. We’re going to do it virtual.” We experienced in that we got other benefits from going virtual, that we didn’t realize were going to have. It’s become a positive, not just a sacrifice to go virtual.
It’s because we moved away from where you were doing that live and you hadn’t exercised in and kickboxed with that group in many years.
I’ve been doing other things at other gyms. I never found exactly the same experience. Now, I’m back with the same people from Rhode Island and I’m in California now that I was doing it with many years ago. It’s become such a wonderful experience. There are other things we’ve experienced personally, where people have been brought together that otherwise wouldn’t be. Our message here is it’s not always a sacrifice.
As Mary was pointing out, it’s broadened the number of people they can reach, which was their mission, to begin with, to get into the rural areas, to get into places where they’ve not been exposed to 3D printing before, and where girls weren’t getting a full STEAM education anyway. Now, they’re doing that because they’re capable of it. Their reach is bigger. I love that too, Tom. The other benefit that she mentioned briefly that I want to point out is that there are some programs and some things that can’t be done in a YouTube video. It’s not the same. You could have taken any kickboxing YouTube video. It could have happened, but it’s the dynamic of the group that you knew who was exciting to you and interesting.
You’re there live through the computer is different than if you just watched how-to YouTube video and how to 3D print and make this fashion accessory. It’s not the same as having somebody there you’re engaged with live.
There is a bonding experience that does happen. I know this because I own the store that was catering to twin girls. I had all these teen girls that were their big sisters. That’s why I keep saying that because that’s how I still think of them. It was the bonding experience between the two of them that made the difference. When the big sisters bonded with the twins that were my clients in the store, then what would happen is that people would come back. They were loyal to this. That’s what I think that live version of what Mary is doing and what the MakerGirl experience is. It’s critical to continue to create that dynamic relationship.
I now have someone I can connect with if that’s the thought process of a young girl. I have someone if I have a question about it. If I’m struggling with math, I have someone I could talk to about it. It won’t be such a random thing where I’m messaging someone with a YouTube video. That’s not going to occur in the same way. You’ve created a dialogue and a connection point that lasts a lifetime if they mind that. That’s where they were creating that connection live. If they can continue to create that connection virtually, they’re going to open up the world literally, and not just the 3D printing world, but the world of STEM and STEAM to a whole generation of girls in an exciting way.
Once we get through the COVID-19 pandemic, which will happen when we don’t even think about going to a live event anymore or having all their local groups get together, that’s going to present a new opportunity. You can still reach out to people that are in geographic areas, where they don’t have any physical representation, but then still invite people to participate virtually. It’s going to present another interesting dynamic. That to me gives more opportunity for a better experience.
I can also see the gap which will be bigger because what will happen is I could see someone like our daughter is saying, “They’re meeting in San Francisco. Is there any way we could come to the weekend that they’re sponsoring, mom?” I could see her asking me about that. Now you have it expanded. We are exposing her to a college in Northern California or a college in Chicago or wherever you’re in and exposing her to something and have made an effort to go there because she wanted it so much. That’s going to create a greater, broader mindset for the future for our daughters. I’m excited to see where MakerGirl keeps going. Go to MakerGirl.us and find their virtual workshop. They’re running all the time. They are very inexpensive. I think it costs $19. It’s worth sharing with a girl you love. They are going to have a lot of fun and there are all different types that will attract their interest and attention. For ours, it was fashion accessories, but it might be animation, cartoons or any things like that. There are different categories and things that they touch on and projects that they have planned, and the broadest brush areas of possibility for 3D printing. Please go there and check that out and support the MakerGirl mission to reach 3,000 girls in the US by the end of 2020.
Everybody, thanks for reading. We’ve got other episodes coming up in the pipeline that we think will be of interest to you and some things that may even present some synergy for those that are interested in the MakerGirl experience.
We’ve got another one coming up, which is an interesting, exciting one. These are the things that all of a sudden, you put that out there and stuff starts to say, “I’ve got this and I’ve got that.” We feel like we have to bring that to you because it’s time for you to make sure that you’re keeping up on what’s changing in the 3D printing world and what can advance your kid’s design education in the 3D printing market and the industry. We hope we can bring that to you. Please also send us some ideas, send us some thoughts. We’d love to hear from you. You can always do that at 3DStartPoint.com or @HazzDesign anywhere on social media. Thanks, everyone.
About Mary Hadley
MakerGirl’s mission is to educate the next generation of female makers to be unstoppable forces that say “Yes!” to the challenges of tomorrow. We do this through STEM education sessions led by University women and men. MakerGirl educates girls on how to 3D print and CAD, focusing on girls aged 7-10. All of our sessions inspire girls to be creative and technical through 3D printing and other cutting-edge technologies.
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