International Women’s Day: ITS for Girls

Today, for International Women’s Day I want to share with you about a field trip I went on a couple of weekends ago.

When at a local cafe, I heard Emma and Rebecca from the Ecology Action Centre’s Energy Action Team mention that they would be teaching young girls how to build solar ovens, I asked if I could tag along. I’ve always wanted to know how to build something with my hands, so not a poem but like.. a house. Okay, let’s be more realistic… a bookshelf.

To learn how to build a solar oven and thus use a renewable and non-polluting form of energy sounded exciting.

SuperNOVA at Dalhousie University had invited these two Energy Action Team members to lead this workshop.  SuperNova is a not-for-profit initiative that aims to engage youth in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics aka STEM.  This particular workshop was for a series called ITS for Girls with the ITS standing for industry, technology, and science.  Sarah, the group leader, explained to me that ITS for Girls invites specifically women in STEM who can serve as role models for the girls.

The afternoon started out with the group using Jenga blocks to talk about negative impact we have on the environment.  Then Rebecca, the Community Energy Campaigner, gave a presentation about green collar jobs. I liked that this was a part of it. It shed light on a field of work that these young people may not have heard of before. They might not be thinking of careers now, but it’s never to early to open a young person’s eyes to what is possible.

I know I would have loved to have a clearer idea of how to align my interest areas and strengths with fields of study when I was in high school.

Home Energy Checklist

After the green collar jobs presentation, they got into the part they were waiting for- solar oven building! Here are the basic steps to building a pizza box solar oven.

The afternoon ended with the Jenga tower being re-built- only this time with the blocks representing how we can do things to benefit the environment and society.  Some of the girls offered direct answers like ” use renewable energy” while others said things that were much more general like ” be nice.”  How simple but important this is. How many of us are nice to this planet we live on?

I couldn’t take any photos of the girls due to consent reasons but here are the lovely facilitators showing the stages of solar oven-building:

If you know of girls who might like to get involved in ITS for girls, here are are a few key pieces of information:

  • Participants are girls in grades 4- 9
  • Program runs from September until June
  • Promotion for the next group will begin in August 2017
  • Registration is online and costs $100. Bursaries are available.
  • Group meets once or twice a month all year ( September to June)

Sarah told me that there are about 30 girls in each group. Not all of them come to every event; they have the option of coming to the ones they are interested in. They can also give input on what they’d like to learn about.  ITS for Girls is housed in Dalhousie University’s Sexton campus. Most of the activities take place here and occasionally they will travel to another location.

If you know of a girl or group of girls you’d like to sign up, bookmark the registration page here: ITS for Girls Registration. 

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could sponsor some brown girls to take part? Let’s support more initiatives like this that invest in the minds of our girls.

Happy International Women’s Day.


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