UPPER EAST SIDE — Students and instructors at the Upper East Side's all-girls Marymount School are trying to close the gender gap in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through a new high-tech educational program.
High School seniors at the Catholic middle and high school are getting a boost in the pursuit of traditionally-male dominated science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] careers, thanks to the "Fab Lab," a fabrication laboratory which allows students to make their theoretical products come closer to reality.
Marymount's Fab Lab, housed in a campus building at 116 E. 97th St., and was developed at MIT by Professor Neil Gershenfeld, allows students to create products from their own designs with a system of high-tech software and machines.
The lab kicked off in fall 2011, on the heels of a report by the Economics and Statistics Administration of the United States Department of Commerce showing that women are "woefully underrepresented" in STEM careers, with a whopping 76 percent of the jobs held by men.
"Our commitment to STEM education helps address the alarming data regarding the underrepresentation of women in professional STEM fields," said Marymount headmistress Concepcion R. Alvar.
"We aim to cultivate a problem solving, collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurship mindset. We want our students to be doers and makers.”
Some of the projects created so far include computer animation logos of the school's name, video games and 3-D interactive art.
According to Jaymes Dec, the Fab Lab adminstrator, the lab gives students an unprecendented opportunity to design and build their own circuit boards, allowing them to experiment with different projects relating to mechanical and electrical engineering.
Some of the designs, which allow for human-computer interactions, have even impressed the CEO of Tinkercad.com, an online platform designers use to publicize their work, he says.
On the Tinkercad website, three projects entitled "Marymount" show how a two-dimensional graphic design becomes three-dimensional as the drawing rotates on the screen to reveal the sides and back of the drawn words "Marymount," surrounded by a drawing of various sized trees.
“The Fab Lab opens up infinite possibilities for learning and exploring,” Dec said.
“Students are encouraged to … think about things in new ways. It is an extraordinary resource.”