This particular summer camp isn't a place to debate the iPhone versus the Droid — it's a hands-on camp to get girls interested in engineering and manufacturing, a field in which only a quarter of the workers are women. Profiled in The Times today, the sixteen-girl camp, made up mostly of girls from low-income families, is a nice dose of constructive inspiration.
Manufacturing wouldn't seem to have much of a jobs future, but skilled labor is still in demand. The woman who runs "Gadget camp," college engineering instructor Antigone Sharris, has said elsewhere of her charges, "There's no limit to what they can do. The only thing that does limit them is their thinking that they can't." She got pretty dramatic to The Times:
"Not letting your children learn the hands-on component of the theory of science is killing us as a nation," Ms. Sharris said. "You have to stop giving kids books and start giving them tools."
Both, maybe? Another way to make this stuff fun: young Sylvia's Super Awesome Maker Show (above), which debuted its second season in mini-episodes on Make Magazine's YouTube channel.
Even if you're not seeking a career in a manufacturing or engineering field, my guess is that these girls aren't the only ones who could use some more hands-on technical skills. The phrase "learned helplessness" is often used to describe men who don't say, do laundry or engage in the messier parts of childcare — because the women in their lives are just better at it! It's a resonant phrase, but it also could apply to those of us women who de facto opt out of technical tasks around the home. In my life, at least, it's something I was neither encouraged nor volunteered to do, and I have nothing but admiration for women who can roll up their sleeves and fix that shit without looking around for a guy to do it. Let's all unlearn our helplessness.