COVID-19 Creates Unique Opportunity for Online STEAM Program

Illustrated image of a desktop computer with the Battle Born Girls Innovate logo in the top left corner and a girl studying on a laptop in the bottom right-hand corner
Nov. 2, 2020

In our continued partnership with CCSD Career & Technical Education Department, UNLV International Gaming Institute (IGI) is hosting the second edition of Battle Born Girls Innovate (BBGI). BBGI is an educational program for 8th grade girls from Title I CCSD middle schools, where 85% of students qualify for or are enrolled in the Free/Reduced Meal Program. BBGI’s mission is to introduce these young women to Southern Nevada’s science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) careers, demystify success in these fields, and provide a fun and creative outlet for them to engage with women role models, mentors, and leaders currently working in these fields. 

Last year, BBGI was a two-day program where students participated in interactive sessions, field trips, and hands-on activities focused on game design and development, innovation, entrepreneurship, and STEAM. This year, however, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the program was reimagined into an online format -- still using the same style of collaborative, interactive learning. Workshops began in September and will take place for one Saturday each month through the end of the year.

In September, BBGI participants signed on for a Saturday afternoon WebEx session about geoscience, game technology, and esports. In October, students learned about meteorology, renewable energy programs, binary code, and the application of engineering to casino art and design. Over these past few months, students have heard from speakers who work for companies as diverse as UNLV, AGS, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

“Whether it’s testing Nevada’s soil and water, or learning about game technology off the Strip, our goal is to change young women’s minds about what—and who—a STEAM professional looks like, expose them to the many STEAM career opportunities available to them, and create a powerful mentorship network to support them in their lifelong journeys,” says Shekinah Hoffman, sociology doctoral student and founder of BBGI.

And so far, it seems like BBGI is living up to its mission. After asking a few of this year’s participants why they chose to attend, Aria Rueda de Leon, an 8th grader and captain of her school’s robotics team, said, “Girls who innovate are powerful because they thrive in the places that often push them aside.”