Guest post from Tori Culler, the graduate student research assistant who worked on the project this summer:
As a masters student research intern this summer, I’ve been looking at how girls’ participation in the CompuGirls program contributes to their perceptions of self-efficacy, which is defined as the belief in one’s ability to successfully accomplish a task. I think the most striking example of girl’s self-efficacy expansion I observed occurred at the Ypsilanti District Library in an activity where the girls used soldering to add circuitry and blinking LEDs to a 3d printed bracelet. Soldering is the process by which you use an extremely hot metal implement to weld two pieces of metal together. It’s no joke. The girls were intimidated at first and I certainly can’t blame them — so was I! But as they gained exposure to the tools and began soldering on their own under the safety and supervision of experienced teachers, they really took to the activity and each one of them successfully finished a bracelet. Their confidence and feelings of self-efficacy soared, with many of them reporting that learning to solder was the highlight of their day and several going on to make additional projects using soldering in the final days of the camp.