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4-H Educator Uses UW MakeHERspace Program to Help Girls Flex STEM Expertise

November 8, 2021
young woman working on a project at a table
Jaiden Booth, a junior high school student at Hanna, Elk Mountain, Medicine Bow Junior/Senior High School, participates in a MakeHERspace camp in Hanna last summer. (Emily Haver Photo)

A Carbon County 4-H educator is using MakeHERspace workshops to erase that girls’ bland sugar-and-spice stereotype and replace it with accomplish and aspire.

Trained through the MakeHER Scholar Program at the University of Wyoming, Emily Haver, a UW Extension educator based in Rawlins, was a member of the first group of volunteers who took what was learned back to their communities.

The volunteers delivered STEM/Maker workshops and camps aimed at inspiring young girls to get back up when they fall -- however many times it takes to succeed.

“They are out there now delivering programs across the state,” says Jane Crayton, director of the Coe Student Innovation Center at UW.

The MakeHER Scholar Program was created by the center and 4-H in partnership with the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance. Funding is through the STEM Next Foundation as part of the Million Girls Moonshot program.

The volunteers received $1,500 grants.

Makerspace is a term for the space where making happens, and MakeHER is the program she directs to inspire girls to opt in to making and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Crayton says.

“The volunteers learned how to engage girls in STEM education, design thinking and maker education, with a focus on opting in to learning experiences,” she says. “MakeHER Scholars learned best practices for delivering single-gendered programs for girls and co-gendered programs where boys also learn behavior to empower their female peers.”

Crayton is seeking participants for the second group of MakeHER Scholars to be trained in 2022. For more information and to apply, go to www.wyafterschoolalliance.org/makeher.

MakeHER Scholars completed a remote class that included finishing hands-on, project-based activities that encourage learning by doing, a 4-H motto.

“They sent us a whole box of kit materials so we could actually do the hands-on projects that we were then going to turn around and teach,” Haver says. “And that made all the difference and made me a believer in STEM and the maker movement.”

Haver says she is passionate about advancing girls’ education.

“We all used to be makers, and we can all be makers again,” Haver says. “And then, just encouraging girls to fail -- try, try; fail, fail; try again. It’s the incapable part that the maker movement works to totally demolish. If you believe you are capable, you are automatically less vulnerable to outside dissenting voices and natural obstacles.”

The MakeHER Scholar training trained the trainer.

“That sense of discovery, that ‘I can do this’ feeling is exactly what that grant was meant to create in young girls and making sure that it is created in the teacher,” Haver says.

She adds the 4-H MakeHER grant was an opportunity for the Carbon County 4-H program to reach youths who do not participate in traditional 4-H projects.

“I especially enjoyed the chance to interact with members of communities I don’t work in very often because they are remote or very small,” she says.

Haver partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Carbon County to organize a girls camp in Rawlins, and she directed a girls and boys camp in Hanna, which was combined because of overall fewer numbers there.

All camp equipment and snacks were funded through the 4-H MakeHER Scholar Program.

“I love to create that self-confidence in being able to make things with your hands that I think kids, in general, don’t get a lot of these days,” Haver says. “That’s the thing that really turned me on to the maker movement is we used to all be makers. If something broke, you fixed it. If you needed something, you made it.”

The goal is to develop the belief in girls they are capable through experiences that teach skills in an encouraging environment that allows a girl to fail and try again, she says.

“That’s something that is hard,” Haver says. “It’s hard for adults to do, too. We’re scared. We don’t want to fail. But you don’t succeed unless you fail a few times first.”

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