Female community leaders mentor girls with 3D printers

Over the course of 10 weeks, a group of female community leaders traveled to South Avondale Elementary every Thursday to mentor fifth-grade girls using a 3D printer. The initiative was a collaboration among United Way's Women of Tocqueville, Women Investing in the Next Generation (WINGs) and the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative.

South Avondale Elementary was just one of 13 local schools participating in the project. The women who served as mentors came from varying fields — consultants, lawyers, coaches, attorneys — and Kelly Dehan, a Women of Tocqueville member, served as project manager. 

The students used the printer to make simple items like jewelry and keychains. But they also focused on what they could invent to solve a problem.

"The 3D printer is especially nice because here you are doing research on what you can invent to make life easier," Dehan says. "It was really rewarding for all of us to watch."

The students came up with the idea of a phone cradle — something that would hold a phone while it played videos — so that instead of leaning their phones up against a hard surface they could use the cradle. 

South Avondale was able to keep the printer for future use by its students. 

"I think the process of thinking problems through, working with others and bonding gave them a renewed sense of confidence," Dehan says. "You could definitely see the confidence and can-do spirit improve over a several week period."

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