STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

Google’s Made with Code Initiative is inspiring millions of girls ages 12 to 18 to learn to code and to help them see coding as a means to pursue their dream careers. Girls Inc., a lead contributor to the Initiative, is committed to helping girls discover how science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and its many applications offer exciting opportunities today and for the future.

So what can a girl do with code? Literally anything – she might go on to be a programmer, doctor, anthropologist, designer, president, pastry chef or anything in between. Computing skills can build the foundational problem solving, creativity and communication skills that will help her succeed and stay competitive in whatever she chooses to do. There really is nothing she can’t do with coding as a tool in her belt.

A new partnership with Pratt & Whitney is giving Girls Inc. of Columbus and Phenix-Russell the opportunity to once again offer a Made with Code Chapter. This Chapter will begin to learn and explore STEM in the near future.

Tomorrow’s innovators practice imaginative thinking and teamwork. Guided by adult Coaches, FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams research a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc., and are challenged to develop a solution. They also must design, build, program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology, then compete on a table-top playing field.

Girls Inc. of Columbus has partnered in the past with Chattahoochee Valley Libraries to deliver a First Lego League Jr. program for first and second graders. The team learns basic STEM concepts by working and creating together as they explore science and technology. Participation in the junior league prepared girls for the Girls Inc. of Columbus “Smart Girls” Robotics Team.

The Smart Girls Robotics Team, made up of eight middle school girls, participates in local, regional and super-regional FLL competitions. Each year, the girls develop and refine their critical thinking and team-building skills, basic STEM applications, and even presentation skills, as they must present their solutions with a dash of creativity to judges at FLL competitions. They also practice the Program’s signature Core Values, including Gracious Professionalism®.

Not only does the Smart Girls Robotics Team compete – and they won – each year, they also worked with students from other robotics teams in Columbus. Last year, the Columbus High School FRC robotics team helped girls build a bat house as part of their project for the 2017 FLL competition challenge, “Animal Allies.”


Economic Literacy

Project Cookie Jar brings economic literacy to local teen girls using an unexpected hook. How does a cookie jar relate to economic literacy?

TSYS has partnered with Girls Inc. of Columbus to engage girls in learning the fundamentals of personal finance, using a cookie jar as a metaphor for planning ahead. And while the average teenager might not be interested in a course on personal finance, a program that involves cookies generally gets their attention.

The cookie jar concept originated with Gail Burgos, Senior Diversity Manager at TSYS Global Payments, who is also one of our very own board members. Some of Gail’s earliest memories are of her grandmother pulling extra money from her cookie jar to provide funds for ice cream and other treats for her grandchildren. This “magical cookie jar” made a powerful impression on young Gail and became the central idea around which she built the Project Cookie Jar program.

Now in its second year in Columbus, Project Cookie Jar has been adopted by Girls Inc. of Atlanta. Each month during the school year, women volunteers from TSYS share their knowledge and experience with dozens of girls. The program – which targets middle school teens – aligns with the Girls Inc. Economic Literacy curriculum. From buying personal items to preparing for college and learning about taxes, TSYS volunteers use Project Cookie Jar to equip girls with the knowledge, practical guidance and confidence they need to make wise choices with their money.