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Integrating 3D Printing Education into a Curriculum for Girls in Africa

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The Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) is a global not-for-profit created in 2000. The goal of its creation is to partner with low-income communities in the US as well as rural areas in developing countries to, “create rich learning environments for youth and women to identify problems, learn about the causes, and apply appropriate technology as they solve critical problems in their home communities.

aboutusartWe have seen the interest in connecting women and girls with advanced technologies before and it’s an initiative that bears repeating as a powerful way for women to raise themselves up in today’s world. In many places, it’s not enough to simply provide girls physical access to 3D printing technologies.  Instead cultural access has to be created as well. YTF provides examples of the types of cultural barriers that might prevent girls from participating in the STEM education programs that they work so hard to provide:

“Rita, one of YTF’s star students in Nigeria wasn’t allowed to go to school until this year, as her parents would rather invest in their son’s education. Thirteen-year-old Margaret is influenced by her parents’ thinking that engineering makes a girl less feminine. She thinks pursuing STEM-related subjects in school will make her unfavorable marriage material. With 3D Africa, we’re passionately making progress to close the STEM gender gap in Africa.”

To help them help girls like Rita and Margaret, YTF turned to Indiegogo to begin a crowd-funded campaign to boost access in a variety of ways. They are seeking $10,000 in funding for this particular stage of their initiative, which they will use to expand the efforts that were made possible when they received a seed grant from WeTech. The money raised through this campaign would be used to buy not only equipment and software but also to provide transportation and to host a series of family outreach days designed to address the cultural barriers described above.

20141230084004-IMG_9129Their approach is one that tries to blend traditional feminine activities with STEM education. This type of feminine pedagogy has been demonstrated to be a successful way to begin to bridge the gap between male and female students. It comes with a barrel of critiques regarding the failure to address the conceived nature of femininity, but that critique can be critiqued…and so forth until it is realized that sometimes it is better to be at least trying to do something rather than to be paralyzed by the impossibilities of perfection.

The campaign, which began on December 30th has until February 10th to reach the $10,000 goal.  Let us know if you have contributed to this initiative.  Discuss in the 3D Printing in Africa forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Check out the Indiegogo pitch video below:

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