How the Do-It-Yourself Movement Is Empowering Girls
STEM DIY Girls is a Los Angeles-based program that empowers young women to take an interest in technology and become creative innovators. Recently we spoke with spoke with three of their students to hear about their experiences as makers.
What does do-it-yourself mean to you?
April De La Cruz: To me DIY means that we, as a group, can innovate new ideas to help our community. With DIY Girls, I can express myself, share ideas and be creative. It makes me feel good about myself to know that I can help other people in my community with their needs.
Paola Ramos: To me do-it-yourself means taking matters into your own hands. It means that, when faced with a problem or inconvenience, you decide to figure out solutions yourself. Armed only with the materials available to you, you make something that lends itself to the problem and issue to improve it.
Nalani Avila: I think that do-it-yourself means that you can make or create anything just by putting your mind to it.
When did your interest in making and creating start?
AD: My interest in creating things started in fifth grade when I was a part of the first year of DIY Girls. It interested me that we can make anything using just simple things from home. After fifth grade I was happy to know that I could create fun activities using technology. In freshman year of high school I was glad to hear that DIY Girls had spread to other schools to help other girls reach their goals of engineering. I joined DIY Girls again in my sophomore year. It was fun learning new things, like how to improve air quality in low-income houses.
PR: Before DIY Girls I taught myself crochet and embroidery. I also loved to follow recipes and make cookies and pies. While this sort of creating is different from what I had created before, the feeling of accomplishment when a piece of a project is done is the same. Failing at first and learning from it has helped me in DIY Girls because although it is challenging, it always keeps me motivated.
NA: My interest in making started was when I was about eight or nine years old. My sister and I were playing outside, and I saw a piece of wood in our front yard. I grabbed a step stool from our house and tried to build a little ramp for our bikes and scooters. It wasn’t right the first time, so when I tried to ride on it, I face-planted on the ground. But I got back up and kept trying to make it better by adding supports to the step stool, and in the end my sister and I had a cool little ramp to play on.
Why do you think it’s important to make for good?
AD: I think that making for good is a great thing because it can change the way a person or community lives in their area.
PR: I think it is important to make for good because it is how we will continue to grow as a community. It helps us to give back, and to ensure that there is positive change.
NA: I think it’s important to make for good if you want something to be custom-made instead of paying a bunch of money for someone to make it for you. You can make it for yourself. If it doesn’t turn out the first time, you can keep trying until you get it right.
How has the maker movement impacted your life? What is your biggest accomplishment?
AD: I would say that the maker movement has impacted my life because I have gotten to see new innovations. It has also made me and my friends who are in DIY Girls very proud to say that we are part of a movement. One thing that I am very proud of making was a Solidworks design for this year’s DIY Girls. I am proud because I learned how to use Solidworks pretty well, and I find it fun to design with it because I like drawing.
PR: In participating with the maker movement, I have learned that people are capable of making incredible things. With good planning, it is possible to make so much. One thing that I have made that I am proud of is a small vacuum that would go on an air duct cleaner that my group and I were making. Finding the right components was challenging, and our first prototype was made of an empty water bottle and a fan cut out of an aluminum soda can. Making it actually work was another difficulty and we hit many roadblocks. Eventually, after numerous tries it finally was able to function.
NA: The maker movement has impacted my life because they inspire me to keep trying. When I make something and it doesn’t turn out the first time, I can always keep trying until I get it right. One thing that I made that I am most proud of was when I was 11 years old and my parents let me make a dog house for our new puppy. Since I was pretty young my dad helped me out a little, but the majority of the work was done by me.
How do you see the maker movement changing in the next 10 years?
AD: I think that the maker movement in 10 years will be even better than now, with better technology that can help us with almost anything we need.
PR: I think that more people will learn that there are many things they can make for themselves. There are so many online resources that people can use and change to fit their needs and innovate upon.
NA: In 10 years I see the maker movement going forward with what they are doing today. The maker movement is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY.