School of Informatics and Computing to participate in Passport to Hi-Tech

The IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI is joining with other organizations Saturday, March 8, to teach girls about careers in science, technology, engineering and math at Conner Prairie.

The school will bring two activities to Passport to Hi-Tech at the interactive history park. The event is open to all ages but targeted to girls ages 7 to 12. Passport to Hi-Tech takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free with paid general admission to Conner Prairie.

It will feature interactive exhibits and hands-on experiments designed to inspire girls to learn more about careers in STEM fields such as informatics, engineering, biology, chemistry, manufacturing, computer science and others. Passport to Hi-Tech was organized by Women & Hi-Tech and Conner Prairie. It is sponsored by Roche Diagnostics.

One of the School of Informatics and Computing’s activities is dubbed “Ready, Set, Compute!” Participants jump into computing and become a working part of a machine in a fast-paced game that shows what a computer does as friends play a game on it. When the players select a move, volunteer students will race to the CPU or other parts of the simulated device to deliver a signal for action, showing what goes on in a computer game.

The other activity will be demonstrating a Finch robot, a small, two-wheeled robot with bird-like features. Polly Baker, Ph.D., a professor of media arts and science in the Department of Human-Centered Computing, has programmed the robot so it can be controlled with hand gestures.

“The robot is approachable, and young people see they can control it,” said Vicki Daugherty, a school recruiting specialist. “It’s empowering. They say to themselves, ‘Hey, I can do this.’”