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Pink Hat Hackers

  • by Bridget Rigby on May 9, 2014
    After the great success of Open Make @ The Tech: Flow, The Tech’s going to Maker Faire Bay Area!

    Come find us Saturday & Sunday, May 17-18, at our Hacker vs. Hacker booth. Put on your hacker hat as you take on The Tech's latest high-security design challenge. Your team of hackers must hack through various levels of security, from mechanical to digital, to hack your way out of a secured chamber and outsmart the competition. The team that hacks out of their chamber first will release a devastating computer virus, or stop a virus from being released, in the form of ping pong balls being released on the other team’s heads.


    The Hacker vs. Hacker challenge was partially inspired by our Cybersecurity exhibit opening later this year. In the world of cybersecurity, there are both black hat hackers and white hat hackers working to hack the system, and even grey hat hackers, but why not pink hat hackers?! At The Tech, we want to design learning experiences that attract hackers with hats of every color, and we love going to Maker Faire since we always know that’s what we’ll find.

    Calling all pink hat hackers (and hackers with hats of every color)!!: Join us on Sunday, May 18 from 1:00-2:00 at the Maker Ed Cafe for The Power and Perils of Pink panel discussion. We’ll be engaging with other partners focused on girls in making with technology for a colorful debate around what we’ve found works (and doesn't work) for getting girls into making and supporting them as they turn their ideas into digital and physical reality.

    Joining me at the Maker Ed Cafe: Elisabeth Sylvan, our VP of Education, Judy Ho, Bay Area Director of Technovation, a global technology entrepreneurship program for middle/high school girls, Sam King, Program Manager of TechGYRLS, a YWCA program for girls in technology who will be doing Young Makers next year and working on projects for Maker Faire, and Stephanie Chang, Director of Youth Engagement for Maker Ed, who leads Young Makers. We’ve been lucky to partner with these fabulous people at The Tech!

    There’s been a lot of discussion lately about pink toys for girls, and the pink toy aisle filled with tea sets and princess dresses, while the boys get all the cool multi-colored  toys, that allow them to get out of the kitchen, or the castle, and go out on fun adventures, like swimming with the sharks. An adorable letter from a 7-year old girl to Lego asking them to make more sets that allow the girls to go on fun shark-swimming adventures too! The answer for some is just making all the adventure toys in pink camouflage, but still that outrages others. We’ll debate both sides of the pink toy campaign at the Maker Ed Cafe.

    Particularly how that relates to getting girls engaged in STEM. There are a lot of toys now developed to draw girls into science, technology, engineering, & math, many of them with bright colors casting out the pretty-pink stereotypes, and some playing up the pink too, from all-pink Lego sets to colorful littleBits, Roominate & GoldieBlox building sets. We can all agree the GoldieBlox Rube Goldberg machine video set to the Beastie’s “Girls” not only repurposed all those stereotypical pink toys in the video, but also the song's lyrics to totally disrupt those stereotypes too! So it's not really about the color, but what the toys allow girls to do -- and how they get girls to think.

    Personally, I really don’t mind the pink. In fact, I’m really starting to love it. Pink in the 21st century has broken out of the gender stereotypes and become the new power color. I didn’t wear pink growing up, but now I do all the time. It’s fun, it’s playful, and these days it’s all about girl-power. I never played with Barbies, but I love tinkering with the new colorful STEM toys. And if there’s some pink designed in there along with the other fun colors, even better.

    But keep in mind I'm one of the girls who came up with the glue gun feather boa, the new must-have tool for the 21st century innovator! So I’m all about combining things that cross stereotypes, and appeal to both sides of the brain. At Stanford, there were the “techies” and the “fuzzies”, and I always wanted to be both. That’s why I studied science, math, and philosophy. (And maybe why I love feather boas so much – they’re just so fuzzy!) Math and science seemed very left brain from the outside, but were always highly artistic and creative. Philosophy appeared to be the fuzziest, most right-brain of all, but was extremely precise, logical and scientific.

    So the more learning experiences we can have that appeal to both sides of the brain, the better. That’s why I’ve always loved the movement of putting the A in STEM for STEAM. And if adding a little bright color, glitter and feathers really tickles your STEAM-fancy, I say tickle away!

    Bridget Rigby is the Director of Learning at The Tech Museum of Innovation