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Middle school girls to learn augmented reality, 3d design, design thinking this summer at NIACC

This news story was published on May 27, 2018.
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NIACC campus

MASON CITY – This summer, NIACC will once again join Verizon Innovative Learning, the education initiative of the Verizon Foundation, to introduce more girls, especially those in rural parts of the country, to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills.

Slots are still available for this tuition-free camp. It is open to middle school girls and runs from June 11-29 on the NIACC campus. Participants will receive a tablet for the duration of the program, lunch each day, and a transportation stipend. Girls are encouraged to register online at

Kicking off this summer with a three-week intensive learning experience, 75 girls from local middle schools across North Iowa will have the opportunity to attend courses at NIACC in augmented and virtual reality, coding, 3D design, entrepreneurship and design thinking principles. Following the summer, the students will participate in monthly sessions throughout the academic year where they will develop a technology solution for a community problem that aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Focus areas of the SDGs include poverty reduction, quality education, good health and well-being, climate action, peace and justice or gender equality.

Women continue to be underrepresented in STEM careers, where a staggering 86 percent of engineers and 74 percent of computer professionals are men. “This program offers girls the opportunity to explore and discover a wide variety of options they may not have thought of before. We keep it fun, creative, and meaningful. The girls will learn a lot and have a great time,” says Heather Rissler, NIACC Instructor and Camp Director.

NIACC President Steve Schulz says, “Our hope is that by participating in this camp, girls will become interested in and excited about STEM careers. When that happens, all of North Iowa benefits.”

Launched in partnership with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), the 2-year program was piloted last summer at NIACC and four additional community colleges and expanded to 16 community colleges this summer, engaging over 1,500 students.

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