I’ll be honest, I’m far from being recognized as a fashion maven. Give me a pair of gym shoes, a polo/t-shirt, and some jeans, and I feel well-dressed. But, no one can deny that technology is reaching into new and exciting areas. You can’t be in tech and not notice the number of “smart clothes” that are entering the market, blurring the line between what is considered purely fashion, or just tech. In fact, event at Fashion Week, tech stole the show.There are smart shoes, which send data to your smartphone, undergarmets which can measure heart rate, and even high-tech jackets that are more like full-functional computers than windbreakers.
In our latest 21st Century Open Hack, our phenomenal instructor, Kris Roberts demoed a hoodie that could be lit and was fully programmable. It received an amazing response from the young girls who participated. That was our aha moment! As with many organizations and programs, we’d love to have more girls participate and reap the benefits of our program. We’re not saying that every girl has to be into fashion OR enter our program only on this track, but the point is, we thought we could enter a completely new avenue of interest (and growth), particularly among young girls, that have a keen interest in fashion as well as technology. Every young woman can still signup for our regular OpenHack at Cibola without having to pursue the fashion track! And if all goes well, and we have interest from young men, we may have a separate track, but for right now, we’re only piloting this with young women.
The challenge of encouraging students to learn something outside of school, is making it unlike traditional school. We must capitalize on the areas that interests the students the most and then use that as an opportunity to provide those transferrable skills. In response to the need of specific education programs designed to teach and train youth what could be called “Fashion Tech”, the 21st Century Youth Project has created a new series of courses. In essence, young girls (who already have an interest in fashion and/or technology) will be instructed in sewing, design, and software programming, culminating with a fashion show displaying the students wear-able designs and lessons learned.
The basic idea is to teach these students how they might be able to create fully-functional and “wear-able” pieces of technology. Not only is this a great opportunity for them to truly open up their imagination to new and exciting possibilities, it’s also a chance to learn real-world skills.
Currently, the program is slated to start on Saturday, April the 6th and will run until May the 4th. Afterwards, there will be a presentation/fashion show on May 9th. To sign up, go here. It costs just $30 total for the five weeks (yes, just $6/week for materials) and we’re limiting the class size to the first twenty that sign up.
Here’s a link to our press release.
Here’s our instructor, Kris
At 14 I discovered a passion for computers after reverse engineering an atm for a class project which got me into a bit of hot water. Over time I learned that I was a bit obsessed with knowing how things worked. In my 20’s my best friend introduced me to a man named Mr. James Lee who was looking for programmers to teach his young and willing students. This was my first but not last teaching job. I love children, as an inner city youth myself growing up in Brooklyn I knew how hard it was for someone to pay some attention to not just you, but your interests. So when Mr. Lee gave me the position to teach web development to his students I jumped at the opportunity. Pauline Deng, my best friend and I were/ still enthusiastic about teaching kids – we were so enthusiastic about learning our classes at IP Ethernet were the most attended every summer. I have always found a way to bond with children, I believe that it is primarily
based on the fact that we are both eager and excited to learn, me from the world and them from me. My hope for this class is to offer them that same enthusiasm and excitement that I experienced from IP Ethernet afterschool program. I have earned a Master’s degree in HCI – Human Computer Interaction at DePaul University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and Animation from NYIT. Although the degrees mean the world to me, I was able to learn more on my own. I am best described as an autodidact, after meeting my boyfriend George Johnson another autodidact we both encouraged one another to get more involved in robots. He introduced me to microcontrollers and began investigating AI programming and with his assistance, later with his help I learned to build robotic prototypes and create my own schematic boards along with the Arduino Uno microcontroller. I promised myself once I
was able to recreate a prototype and schematic board I would reach out to teach children and show them how much fun coding and electro-mechanical engineering can be. I have never truly target a gender as all children need to learn the fundamentals of engineering, but as a female, and having all male role models till I was 28. I realized that sometime we just have to look inward to our own strength to find our inner role model.