Press release
January 13, 2009

$15,000 NCWIT Grant to Encourage Inclusion Through Creativity in IT Education for Latina Youth

IRVINE, Calif. – The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and Microsoft Research have awarded researchers in Informatics at UC Irvine’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences $15,000 for encouraging creativity in information technology education for Latina youth in Orange County.

“Hacking” has, over time, had many different interpretations, but most recently it has been associated with an emerging movement of creative technological design celebrating ingenuity, appropriation, and repurposing, a blend of hardware and software design practices that adopt and adapt systems and components to new ends their originators might never have imagined. Such problem-based and construction-oriented approaches to science and technology can reach and engage new audiences.

Assistant Professor Gillian Hayes, along with Dean Debra J. Richardson and Professor Paul Dourish will be working with Girls Incorporated of Orange County (Girls, Inc.) to develop a hands-on four-week summer workshop and series of school-year workshops introducing girls to digital media through crafts-style physical computing.

“Through this partnership with Girls, Inc., we will examine the role that ubiquitous and tangible computing education can play in harnessing creative practices to broaden participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” says Hayes. “The Latina population, in particular, is a demographic that has not been studied extensively in related research efforts.”

The project builds on best practices from NCWIT as well as research and theory in education. Students will be actively involved in the learning process by working in small groups for hands-on activities. UCI undergraduate students will also be involved as mentors, teaching the middle school girls and learning more themselves in the process. “I hope that in the long-term that this partnership will broaden interest and participation of women in computing as the girls mature and become technically savvy. We look forward to seeing the long-term results as Girls Inc. spreads the new curriculum outside of Orange County through their nationwide network,” says Hayes.

More on NCWIT: http://www.ncwit.org/

More on Microsoft Research: http://research.microsoft.com/

More on Girls, Inc. of Orange County: http://www.girlsinc-oc.org/

Media interested in interviewing ICS faculty, students or alumni should contact Matt Miller at (949) 824-1562 or via email at matt.miller@uci.edu.