This August Girl Up hosted the first ever virtual STEAM week for the 90 girls selected from Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, the U.S. and territories to attend WiSci Morocco 2020. Originally, WiSci campers would have been together at this time experiencing an all-girl, international STEAM camp in Ifrane, Morocco as part of the Women in Science “WiSci” Girls STEAM Camp program. Since the in-person camp was postponed for everyone’s health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, WiSci Morocco partners, including Girl Up, the State Department,the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the Millennium Challenge Account – Morocco came together to provide campers with an alternative virtual experience!
The week-long event kicked off with a Girl Up Orientation and inspiring remarks from Mr. David Fischer, U.S. Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, Mrs. Malika Laasri-Lahlou, Director General at MCA-Morocco, and Mr. Amine Bensaid, President of Al Akhawayn University. Other speakers throughout the week included Dr. Hasnaa Chennaoui, Professor, Hassan II University, Dr. Ayanna Howard and Jennifer Lopez, both roboticists, and more.
During the virtual STEM week, WiSci campers participated in various workshops led by STEM experts from the NASA SERVIR project, AI4All, and the MISTI program at MIT. They learned about topics like Earth science, coding, and ethics in STEAM. Many campers were fascinated by the workshops, including U.S. campers, Maria Jose. Maria Jose shared her thoughts on the workshop facilitated by NASA SERVIR’s Emily Adams.
“When I was first told that I was invited to a WiSci Virtual Steam Camp, I was over-the-moon excited, but I was also curious as to how it would work. After all, most STEAM fields require hands-on activities and instruction. When I joined the first day, I automatically knew it would be a week full of fun, inspiring, and unforgettable lessons and speakers. The hosts, campers, and panelists made me feel so welcome, even if we all were miles away. I recognized this virtual experience as an opportunity to get to know the faces and names I would be seeing in Morocco next year, and as a great way to learn of the STEAM fields I would be exploring.
One of the many highlights of my week was the NASA SERVIR Workshop with Emily Adams. As it progressed, I got to learn more about Earth, and how different it looks from different perspectives. In addition to this new point of view, I learned how Emily Adams uses science and technology to try to make Earth the best place to live for all. It was incredible to learn about developing communities in Eastern and Southern Africa, and how they benefited from the work of people like Emily Adams. I was even able to interact virtually with a satellite-like view of farm crops. Overall, this virtual experience was an incredibly fun and interactive way to learn about STEAM, and I cannot wait to see everyone in Morocco next year!” Maria Jose , WiSci Morocco Camper from the U.S.
In addition to the workshops, campers were able to interact with panelists from a Women in STEAM panel and a WiSci camper and counselor alumni panel. The Women in STEAM Panel was moderated by WiSci Morocco Counselor, Ithri Ait Hou. Ithri led a conversation with Karen B. Schultz, Sr. Technical Training Specialist at Caterpillar Inc., Rita Oulai, Market Engagement Management at GSM Association, and Nezha Larhrissi, Co-founder, ESTEM Morocco. The panel provided insight on the experience of women in STEM fields, advice on why and how to pursue STEM careers, and a day-to-day looked like in their specific field. Afterwards, Ithri hosted a Q&A where campers were able to ask specific questions regarding their journeys in STEM. A similar Q&A was held for the WiSci Alumni panel, where WiSci campers from previous years shared their experiences at the in-person camp. This was a wonderful preview for selected WiSci Morocco campers. WiSci Morocco camper, Maureen from Cote d’ Ivoire shared,
“I really enjoyed the WiSci Morocco Virtual week. One of my favorite parts was the WiSci Alumna Panel. We got to hear from alumni from two camps, and it was very interesting. They shared their amazing experiences, and I could see from them that WiSci camps are a safe, supportive environment and a life-changing experience. They learned a lot of things related to the STEAM. They definitely made me more excited about participating in the camp in person in 2021!
At the WiSci Camp 2021, I hope to meet wonderful individuals who will share with me their experiences with STEAM; I hope to learn a lot of new things, increase my scientific knowledge and develop other passions. And after attending the WiSci Morocco Virtual week, I am now persuaded that it will be the case.
The WiSci virtual experience was very inspiring. As a young girl enamored by STEAM, hearing from numerous women in STEAM was definitely inspiring. They showed me that women can embrace STEAM careers and be successful and happy.” Maureen, from Cote d’ Ivoire.
Many campers shared their appreciation for a virtual experience amid the pandemic. While everyone is still looking forward to the in-person camp, this was a wonderful way to connect and continue to learn and gain knowledge in STEM. The virtual week wrapped up celebrating the WiSci Morocco campers and congratulating them on being selected.