Last Meeting of Techsters 2018

Techsters 2018 was the 5th season of Techsters UMS! Can you believe it?! We can’t either! This season was especially brilliant because of our great board member team of 8th graders. Thank you to Sami, Harish, Sahithi, and of course our amazing advisor Mrs. Markmann for helping with everything from planning to running meetings.

I especially enjoyed mentoring and seeing the growth of our board members throughout all stages of Techsters 2018. Leadership, collaboration, and organization are three of the most important skills that one can use not only in school, but in the real-world as well. Through brainstorming and executing the Techsters sessions, the team has gained a strong foundation, that they can now build upon as they enter high school.

You can check out what we did during each meeting on our ‘Activities from Meetings’ page, and can see all of our pictures/videos on our Instagram: @techsters_ums.


The Techsters Team




SheHacks Boston 2018

SheHacks Boston 2018 was the first of its kind, being the World’s largest all-female, non-binary hackathon. It took place this past weekend from Friday, January 26th to Sunday, January 28th. With over 1000 participants, this hackathon was filled with workshops, key note speakers, tinkering, and networking with companies like Google, IBM, and RedHat. You can get to know more about the event and the team here:

I was fortunate to have been part of the leadership team for SheHacks Boston, serving as the High School Ambassador. The group of young women that I was working with were truly inspirational and act as role models for high school girls, such as myself. I can’t thank them enough for their guidance, confidence, intelligence, jokes, and support.

As the High School Ambassador for SheHacks I took it upon myself to garner as many girls from the Greater New Jersey Area to join me, and my Kickstarter initiative helped raise $2,530 in just 10 days! I was especially taken back when I saw that people that I didn’t even know donated as much as $1,000 to the cause. I am so incredibly grateful for this community, who showed me that having blind faith truly pays off. Thanks to them, we were able to fill a coach bus with over 40 high school, college, and international students who shared the same vision: Increase representation for women in the STEAM field.

Throughout the hackathon, I noticed that all of the things that I really enjoyed came together. Coding, empowering women, leading, running, all whilst having a good laugh. Funnily enough, I saw the same traits in the girls when I was leading the 5K run as I saw when they were coding. Persistence, team-work, and spreading the #GirlLove. Despite the fact that these girls had varying levels of stamina, we stuck together and encouraged each other to push through and finish strong.

Additionally, I made it a priority for this college-hackathon to be welcoming to high schoolers by hosting a High School Hackers workshop. In order to make the workshop as impactful as possible, I decided to have an intimate reflection circle where we could share what its like to be a female in STEAM at high school. Sometimes, we feel alone in fighting for women’s equal rights and representation in society. However, by connecting with like-minded girls, we were reassured that we were in this together and became empowered to never stop advocating for what is right. One common pattern that I noticed throughout the stories that were shared included the stigma that surrounds the movement ‘Gender Equality’, especially amongst our male peers. There is a definite societal stigma that these issues are over exaggerated and the people who support this movement are petty. I think that the best way to go about this is to stress equality for all, over dominance. Feminism can be portrayed as the overshadowing of men, however, the true definition of this movement is simply EQUALITY FOR BOTH SEXES. This is what we need to educate our friends, family, community, and society about. As I said in the BU today article, “I expected to face this in the workforce as well, because women make up only 25 percent of coders, and this is going to be an issue until everyone accepts it as a real issue and starts changing their act.”

Finally, during the Demos of all submissions I was on sticker duty, handing out the famous “I Demoed” stickers from Major League Hacking. This gave me the opportunity to see all of the girls’ projects, which were all so innovative and daring. Women are usually looked down upon for our strong sense of intuition and how in-tune we are with our emotions. However, at SheHacks, the hackers proved that emotion is powerful, and can be used to truly connect us through the instincts of human nature: Kindness and love ❤

SheHacks Boston was a thrilling adventure and I would personally like to shoutout all of the leadership team, sponsors, volunteers, mentors, chaperones, judges, hackers, Boston University, and Major League Hacking for pulling off this one-of-a-kind experience. Thank you once again!



First Meeting of Techsters 2018

Welcome to Techsters! Today was the first meeting of the 2018 Techsters season.

Our session today was all about Artificial Intelligence to preempt the professional guest speaker we will be having later on in the season.
We began by testing how intelligent paper was with an unplugged activity. Prove it, you ask? Sure! Play a game of “noughts and crosses” by giving one person the job of being the paper’s servant. Tell the paper’s servant to do follow the directions here and let their component do whatever they want. You’ll see that either the paper wins or you tie! Thank you for CS Unplugged for this awesome activity! The members understood that objects as simple as paper are intelligent (AI) and that intelligence is different than knowledge! Here is the example CS Unplugged used to explain this: “…knowledge isn’t the same as intelligence – and that they surely don’t just try to memorise things for exams but try to understand which isn’t the same”  
To wrap up, we played akinator. This game is a ‘chat bot’ which basically responds to almost any message that you type. We definitely recommend trying it out, its a super cool game to shock you and your friends.
Overall, with over 30 new faces today and a great amount of enthusiasm and passion for learning about STEAM, we are super excited for another great Techsters season with you all!

Remember to invite your friends to join you for our next meeting on Wednesday, January 17th, 2017 from 3-4pm in room C101, and don’t forget about your permission slips 🙂

Real Role Models For High School STEAM Students

My name is Iccha Singh and I am a freshman at the Montgomery High School. I am a member of the Montgomery High School’s STEM Board and have been running Techsters, a tech club at the Montgomery Upper Middle School since 6th grade. My mission is to: Empower girls to speak up, lead, and get involved in the STEAM field.

Keeping this in mind, I organized and hosted a live video chat session with women working at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in an attempt to inspire girls and my peers to hear firsthand what it takes to work and become a part of a nationally recognized organization such as NASA. I believe it is very important to have female role models to look up to in the STEAM field.

According to Forbes magazine, “Tech is about people, not technology”. Then why are only 17.9% of undergraduate females receiving a bachelor degree in Computer Science, 25% women in the CS workforce, and 18% of Computer and Information Sciences women? Why is it that 13.33% of the engineers at Facebook are female, 8.26% at Yelp, and 12.75% at Pinterest? Why are only 15% of women in executive positions at their STEAM job? Why does raising a child set a woman’s salary back by 4%? Why does it add up to women making up way under half of the STEAM workforce? Why?

I had linked up the projector, my computer was ready, the connection was strong, and the audience had settled in. Now was the big moment, the time to make the call. I had had a dry run a day earlier but once again I felt the same nervousness and childlike excitement. After all this was NASA, an organization we have all known since we were young scientists marveling over astronauts who went to the moon! On one hand NASA provides us with an “out of this world” experience but on the other hand I was about to talk to real women, embarking on their real journeys on how they got to work at NASA. This was and still is a “WOW” moment for me!

The panelists included the Manager of the Engineering and Science Department at NASA, Project Coordinator, a Communications Lead, a Technology Support, and Engineers who hold leading roles. The diversity shed light on the fact that big organizations such as NASA don’t only look for people with STEAM backgrounds but all backgrounds of study. NASA needs good communicators and organizers as much as they need stellar computer scientists.

When I mentioned “real women” before I wanted to stress how authentic these women and their backgrounds were. They were not 4.0 GPA students who went to Ivy Leagues and were top of their classes.  Quite the contrary, they didn’t all have perfect scores or top notch education, they didn’t even overload on APs. They however never lost their reverence to learn. They were always eager to challenge themselves, not scared to ask questions, and didn’t take the easier route to avoid failure. These women embraced it all! While enjoying extra-curriculars, participating in community service, and focusing on academics, these women were well rounded individuals who used their passion to keep learning as their motivation to get to where they are today.

During the chat we were able to discuss the implicit bias that is present in this male dominated field. It was revealed by a data analyst working at the Marshall Space Flight Center that “80% of the time, the name ‘Jack’ will be more favorable against ‘Jill’ despite the fact that they both have the exact same resumes”. The Manager of the Engineering and Science Department elaborated NASA’s focus on diversity, inclusion, anti-harassment and equal employment opportunity. However, she also touched upon NASA being a government run organization meaning that NASA may be an equal community for all, but situations similar to Jack and Jill above occur mostly outside of the government controlled domain.

To our surprise, the panelists were encouraging us to “Not be afraid of failure.”, “Keep asking questions.”, and “Continue to learn.” This is because they knew (from their experience) that perseverance through the tough times is what stands out and propels you further. These women have overcome many of the hurdles that females encounter when working in the STEAM workforce, but they still smile when thinking about the amazing work that they are doing. Their enthusiasm for their work is what motivates them, and continues to pull them through the most adverse of times. “Being happy with what you do”, is one of the biggest takeaways from this event!

I asked the women working at NASA what they think would’ve encouraged them to get involved with STEAM at an earlier age, and their response was: “Things like this!” They firmly believed that exposure was key as well as following other inspirational women all supporting them to get involved and inspiring them to reach for the stars!

Undeniably there is an issue with women in the tech field as being underfunded and sexually harassed, but I want to continue to raise awareness amongst girls and I urge my peers to look at the statistics for themselves.

Currently, there are only 25% of all women in the computing workforce, and if this continues, in 2024 there is expected to be 1.1 million computing related jobs that remain unfilled. I believe this can change. We can make a difference! Let’s speak up, let’s tinker, let’s encourage one another, and let’s never give up so we can seal the leaky pipeline, add diversity, and gain gender neutrality in the STEAM field. Let’s strive to become the role models for the next generation of pioneering women and support each others journeys in doing so!


Techsters 2017 Season

The fourth season of Techsters was successfully completed on March 22nd, 2017. This season was filled with a wide variety of opportunities, guest speaker sessions, out-of-school events, hands-on activities, teamwork, leadership, and fun!

I created Techsters so people like me could have an nonjudgemental space where they could meet like-minded people, collaborate on STEAM projects, and make some friends along the way. I always liked hands-on activities that helped me learn on the spot, gathering experience and not just facts from a textbook. I also really enjoyed the thrill of listening to, and interacting with professionals in the STEAM field. This is the type of environment that I hope that I have achieved to provide to middle schoolers throughout the four seasons of Techsters.

From video chatting with women at NASA, coding on terminal, demystifying unplugged activities, to storyboarding our own movie… Techsters exposed our members to the many aspects of the broad STEAM field. Now, since they have explored this much at Techsters, the rising freshman can head up to high school with a narrowed set of STEAM interests!

I am also proud to mention that we had many girls speak up, lead, and get involved at Techsters which is very important. At Techsters, we encourage each other to tinker, ask questions, collaborate, and not be afraid to mess up (because everybody does– and it’s ok). We believe that Feminism is simply the belief that males and females are equal, not one gender overpowering the other. We are here to not just listen, but to DO… to experiment with tech and gain experience behind your belt!

Thanks to everybody who joined us and helped make the season run as smoothly as it did! Please don’t hesitate to check out what we did during our meetings, check out the Activities From Meetings Page, and join our Google+ Community to keep the conversation going!

CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap– Screening and Panel Session

Today, the Princeton Public Library offered the community a wonderful opportunity to share our thoughts and experiences with likeminded, empowering women.

The documentary CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap is a must-watch! It not only describes the perceived STEAM Gender Gap issue, it provides statistics and fabulous ways to visualize them. It sheds light on real experiences that real 21st century women in the tech world are facing by their male counterparts. However, it also gives us hope by showcasing the inclusive and supportive programs that are getting more girls to break the out of the mold and try their hand at STEAM. Not only this, but us girls are bringing a fresh perspective to the table, adding diversity, and we’re getting things done!

This documentary really made me realize how much of an issue this continues to be. One quote that really captures the issue is “It’s hard to get women into a field that will underfund them and sexually harass them.”. Watch the trailer, and read more about it here:

Following the screening I had the opportunity to be part of a panel of 4 other empowering women. We discussed STEAM education, our experiences in the field, and our visions for the future.

These types of events always get me motivated to continue to get more girls to try something new, and get involved in the STEAM field. As I mentioned during the panel session, “‘Aha moments’ are not hard to achieve when working with tech, but can surely spark interest amongst anyone.”


Rube Goldberg’s Granddaughter

On March 1st, 2017 Techsters members had the opportunity to video chat with Rube Goldberg’s actual granddaughter: Ms. Jennifer George. Ms. Jennifer also wrote the best-selling book The Art of Rube Goldberg.

Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) was a famous cartoonist, specifically remembered for his designs of machines that would complete specific tasks in crazy ways!

To start off the video chat session we introduced ourselves and I told Ms. Jennifer about what we have been doing at Techsters. She was impressed with the hands-on experience that the members get at Techsters.

From this she segued into explaining the Rube Goldberg Competition. The Rube Goldberg Competition includes teams from all over the nation comparing their extravagant machines (replicating Rube Goldberg’s designs) to complete a certain task. Here’s a cool video of the National High School Rube Goldberg Champions:

Ms. Jennifer also let us know about the kits that they sell to tinker with. Check them out here:

Overall, it was an amazing opportunity to be able to speak to Ms. Jennifer and we thank her so much for her time and the great conversations that we had.



First Meeting of #Techsters2017

Happy New Year everybody!

We kicked off 2017 with a fresh season of Techsters! We had our first meeting just yesterday on January 11th, 2017 after school at the Montgomery Upper Middle School.

It was not only a great turn-out but fun #UnpluggedActivities got every middle-schooler in the room communicating, collaborating and subconsciously learning some of the fundamentals of programming!

Just as everybody finished signing in and handing in their permission slips the tone of the season was set: Fun and Hands-On. By going through the array of professional and interactive guest speaker sessions as well as the tinkering that everybody will be partaking in, the members are excited for the meeting to come.

Our #UnpluggedActivity was the “Orange Game”: This was where the group got into a circle and each person choses two blocks of the same color. The objective was to get both of their colored blocks by moving either counter clockwise or clockwise, but not diagonally. From this, the members learned about algorithms, which are procedures to do things like leading devices through solving problems & fulfilling commands.

Additionally, seeing girls at this session makes me hopeful that they will continue to come, bring their friends and use Techsters as their platform to breaking the STEAM gender stereotypes in their own way 🙂

Our next meeting is after school (3-4pm) on Wednesday, January 18th at UMS. Stay posted for details about this coming week! Bring a friend and try your hand at something new.

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Girls In STEAM

Throwing it back to October 2015, with the Girls In STEAM issue of ‘New Resources’ I wrote up. Girls entering and staying in this field is still a prominent problem in our society, which is easily visible through the Leaky Pipeline image from 2011.



The Leaky Pipeline Effect:


Girls’ Leaky Pipeline:



Because we have the potential to change the world for the better and by tapping into the STEAM field, it gives us the tools to transform our ideas into reality.

This sums it up perfectly:


How can big data help with war statistics? Learn more about Rebecca Steorts’s plan-

Lisa Seacat is finding ways to help you with the oddest and most common issues we have on a daily basis. How? Click to find out-

“Things you love are made with code” From cleaning up a city to sewing a dress… you have to power to change the world and its ways, when you know how to code.

An event to celebrate women in STEM, that are involved in their communities. Learn more about the inspirational women by exploring this website.

Anne Wojcicki is the co-founder of 23andMe. She wanted individuals to have access to their genetic information. Anne also had the goal for this to guide researchers and companies to shape their next drugs and change diagnostics according to the specific traits of their consumers. Try it out for yourself!



You have to start somewhere, start here.

  3. (Star Wars is trending)

World Maker Faire 2016 At the New York Hall of Science

If you didn’t hear, the World Maker Faire 2016 was at the New York Hall of Science this year, and it was the!

Does anybody remember the Please Touch Museum, The Children’s Museum of Philadelphia? I remember that as a 6 year old, I would love to experiment with everything around me, make believe that I was something else and create oodles of fun and crazy stuff, and I went all out at the Please Touch Museum. To describe the World Maker Faire 2016 in a nutshell, it was the Please Touch Museum for any and all ages to go above and beyond and share, discover, tinker and discuss technology of all shapes and forms.

This was my first experience at a World Maker Faire event and I felt in my element! I loved the quirkiness and logic of the inventions and exhibitions as well as the hands-on and helpful vibe that every project possessed. There was so much to see that it was overwhelming at first, but there was definetly something for everybody.

The faire stressed a key point that is also emphasized at Techsters: STEAM isn’t only about coding or math, it’s about problem solving with technology to improve someone’s quality of life. It’s about improvement. It’s about innovation. It’s about achieving world peace with an app or making it easier for a senior citizen to be independent with a robot by their side. It’s an all inclusive field and everybody should test it out, no matter which way they decide to. Even if you’re into art or public speaking, their is a place for you in a community like: Code For Princeton, Coderdojo or Techsters. Anybody can learn and contribute, so don’t be intimidated!

My personal favorite part of the #WMF16 was the presentation “Nimble and Creative: A Place to Make in the Workplace” where a panel of 5 women discussed #FabricationLabs also know as #Fablabs. A maker-space where people at work can step out of their everyday duties and step into a facility where they can collaborate with others to do rapid prototyping, brainstorm with their hands and best of all, merge all of their skills to help others. You can check out their main website here: You can also see Northrop Grumman’s initiative which is Fab School Labs, an area that excited kids about STEM and provides them with the cutting-edge tech to make the most of their learning experience.   

Overall, the World Maker Faire 2016 was an event that got everyone there, and many who couldn’t make it inspired to join the #MakerMovement and try it out for themselves!