The first ever Girls Breaker Day is in the books, and what a fantastic time everyone had. Kids and parents both commented about how much fun that they had learning about technology. I’m still getting phone calls and messages from people.
If you are not familiar with what we did, it’s quite simple —
We invited girls (and their parents) to come out and learn about technology by taking electronics apart. This event was a hands-on event, complete with band-aids, safety-glasses, wire cutters, screwdrivers, and a pallet of old computers.
Girls brought their own electronics to explore as well. Some brought old computers, keyboards, mice, a VCR/DVD combo, a cassette tape player, cordless phones, a rock tumbler, and even a Furby! The Furby was by far the most sophisticated device that we dissected; it took two girls over an hour to get it completely disassembled.
I wish everyone could have seen the looks on the girl’s faces when they were handed a pair of safety glasses, screwdriver, and a computer to take apart. Some were unsure what to think, you could see it in their eyes — are you sure I can take this a part? It only took a little encouragement, and then there was no stopping them. A few even took apart a second computer. One girl took three computers home to show her friends what’s inside and host her own breaker day event.
We allowed the girls to take any parts that they found interested with them. Many were surprised, asking repeated “I can take this home? Are you sure?” Some kept heat sinks, DVD motors, small circuit boards, entire mother boards, wires, and even the screws were a hit. I have received a few messages and photos of those parts still be coveted by their new owners.
One thing that truly amazed me was just how much the parents got involved, mostly the moms. Some started to dominate the disassembly process, so we stepped in and gave them their own computer to dissect. It was so neat to see the parents dive in, cut wires, remove screws, break down the power supply, and disassemble the DVD player. I kept reminding myself that a lot of people are intimidated by removing covers, breaking warranty seals, and tackling repairs themselves. Something that I have done my entire life.
Throughout the entire event, I bounced from table to table and explained every part of every component of each computer. Details like how the stepper motor worked in the DVD ROM; how the power-supply converted 120 VAC to stable 12 VDC; what the transformers & capacitors do; the purpose the the small 3V battery embedded insight; why these computers didn’t have RAM or hard-drives; how to make a fan work using a separate power supply; and the best way to remove the motherboard from the case. I got a lot of excellent questions too, but I don’t think anyone stumped-the-chump — this time anyway.
Why did we do this event just for girls? I got asked that question a lot, and everyone immediately assumed it’s because there are so few technology opportunities for girls. But that’s not why. I wanted to invite girls because I feel strongly that we should encourage them to explore, reverse engineer, and perform hands-on learning; And I knew that if we held a “Breaker Day” event, it would have been dominated by boys and girls simply wouldn’t have come. Don’t get me wrong, we need to encourage our boys (and parents) to the do the same.
Another question that I got a lot was if we were going to do this again? Sure, why not? Let’s make this an annual event and continue to grow it by expanding to include more activities, more businesses (please step up businesses), and more exploration.
All of our local news stations came out and did great stories about our event — thank you. You can check our stories by USA Media, KDLT, KELO, and KSFY. The girls loved being interviewed, sometimes I think you just setup a camera and let each of them tell their own stories at these events.
Lots and lots of people were involved in making this a great event, and you should know who they are because they are the real super-heroes — I just come up with the crazy ideas.
- SEAM donated all of the computers & recycled all of the electronics after the event
- Journey Group donated their space, brought some heavy equipment over & were fantastic hosts
- DSU & Cybher provided corporate sponsorship & also brought some cool gadgets for the girls to explore. Have you ever seen a Makey Makey? They also brought Raspberry Pis and some creepy robot that the girls loved.
- Jordan from 4D Designs brought thousands of Legos & helped girls architect buildings
- JAMs Art Supplies donated 1/2 ton of glitter (well, it might have been less.) Plus a ton of other craft supplies, the girls loved building their custom robots from the parts
- Montessorium was also a corporate sponsor, and we were so glad to have them join us as well
- Inkka brought her Swamp Daddy’s Cajun Food truck out and fed everyone, which was amazing
- And, I huge thanks to all of the volunteers! We had such incredible help for the event.
I feel like I could write a book about how much fun we had at our Girls Breaker Day. But instead, I’d like you to see for yourself next year. I promise you will leave amazed, and ask yourself why we don’t have more events like this in Sioux Falls.
Take a look at our Facebook Gallery with a ton more photos from the event.
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