Helping to groom a new generation of women engineers, programmers, scientists and astronauts, healthcare analytics leader HMS (NASDAQ: HMSY) announced it has donated $20,000 to Girlstart.
Girlstart hosts camps and educational programs designed to motivate girls to pursue careers in the sciences. The organization has chapters and camps throughout the U.S.
HMS’ donation will provide science kits to girls participating in the group’s month-long virtual summer camps. The crown jewel of the kits is an Ozobot, a miniature computer resembling Star Wars’ R2-D2, which can be programmed to do numerous tasks. These Ozobots will introduce girls to computer programming through fun projects and experiments.
“HMS is proud to be a part of this important initiative,” said Jacob Sims, HMS’ chief technology officer and a member of Girlstart’s national board. “The U.S. has a tremendous shortage of professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, and that shortage is particularly acute among women. Girlstart was designed to address this by making science fun.”
HMS’ donation will enable 233 girls in Texas, who otherwise could not afford to participate in the Girlstart camps, to learn from and enjoy the program.
“We are beyond delighted with HMS’ generosity and foresight,” said Tamara Hudgins, executive director for Girlstart. “HMS is helping us to build a new generation of women committed to scientific careers.”
This year’s coronavirus pandemic is having a profound impact on Girlstart summer camps, which were transformed into ‘virtual’ off-sight workshops in a matter of days.
A day in the life of the typical ‘virtual’ camp-goer includes learning about a science ‘word of the day,’ participating in a scientific experiment and hearing a lecture from a prominent woman scientist, engineer or astronaut.
“The program works because it is both challenging and fun,” said Hudgins. For instance, the girls were challenged to program their Ozobots to traverse a course littered with moon rocks. For every failure, participants needed to reprogram their Ozobots.
“It is easy to imagine these ‘explorers’ will one day be employing similar technologies to plot a course on Mars,” predicts Hudgins.
Through its comprehensive programming, Girlstart provides a year-round, intensive suite of STEM education programs for K-12 girls. Girlstart’s core programs foster STEM skills development, an understanding of the importance of STEM as a way to solve the world’s major problems, as well as an interest in STEM electives, majors, and careers.