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#NE Digital Girls – It Was Mint!

It’s not every day we co-host an event for 300 girls. We never have and so it was with a mix of excitement and anticipation that we walked into the huge Sage Gateshead on the morning of Friday 16 January. Accenture, our fantastic co-host had wanted to put on the largest tech event for girls in the UK and with over 300 girls registered and confirmed, they had certainly done it.

The impressive backdrop of the Sage venue was matched by an impressive array of workshop providers, demos and industry professionals – each aiming to inspire, motivate and excite the girls in attendance into STEM a path and career. ItIs3D had 3D printers and a 3D printed model of Bender from Futurama; PulseCSI had fingerprinting equipment galore and enough keyrings for everyone; FLUX Dance Theatre had a beautiful room ready for the girls to bust a move. There were also Google Glass demos, Leap Motion and a Virtual Car Showroom from Zero Light to be seen. It was a STEM feast for the senses!

The day started with openings from Accenture Newcastle chief Bob Paton, followed by Managing Director Shaheen Sayed, who shared a text to the girls from UK top Scientists and also a video of some fantastic women in STEM. She introduced our very own Head Stemette who keynoted and then sent the girls off in their pre-assigned groups to the various activities.

150 girls headed off to those workshops and 150 girls headed to join the Stemettes team and do the challenge for the day: building a website for a music artist (Ed Sheeran was a very popular choice) working together using the fab tool CloudCannon and learning HTML in an incredible 45 mins (powered by sweets, of course)!

The buzz around the Sage was palpable and the #NEDigitalGirls hashtag was full of comments, pictures and more hashtags from the event attendees.

After lunch, the 150 girls switched activities and got to do what the others had done in the morning. By 3.45 pm everyone was due back in the main hall to present their artist websites and maybe win a prize during prizegiving.

We saw 10 tense presentations showing the 6 pages: Home, About, Contact, Events, Discography and Merchandise for Ed Sheeran, Beyonce and Ellie Goulding. The girls talked about the roles they had taken in their teams, their choices about design and decisions taken on content. Our panel of judges led by Accenture’s UK Head of Technology Emma McGuigan was formed from across Accenture’s management team and took notes intently as the girls spoke. Local MP Chi Onwurah arrived and handed out prizes to the winning team. Well done to Pink Keyboard!!

With that, the day was over and every girl got a goodie bag full of things to remember the day by. We jumped on Instagram and Twitter to see some feedback too:

“Today was amazing and inspirational, I love the goodie bag and I’m now thinking of looking into STEM jobs. xx”

“Today was inspiring and I am only in year seven but I have always wanted to go down the path of English even though it isn’t my strong point. Today’s event got me thinking about being a coder as I enjoyed making the website. Thanks for the amazing opportunity.”

“Had the best day today loved the 3D printing? P.S Thank you soooooooooooooo much for the Kindle I ? it !!!!!!! Had a great day xx”

“I would just like to say thank you for the brilliant experience I have learnt a lot of new things that are going to help and be useful to me in my future career. Today was a great event and very well organised I had such a great time and I think many others did too – it also gave me the chance to socialise and meet new people which again is very helpful. I’ve enjoyed everything about today even though I’m very tired now!! I was pleased with my speech … quite surprised I managed to do it in front of 300 people! I think that this has helped me so much with my confidence and I would love to do more things like this…thank you so much for the opportunities you gave me I am so grateful.”

A huge thank you and well done to Accenture, our co-host for pulling this out of the bag and to our fellow workshop providers and collaborators for giving the girls such a fantastic experience.

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