Girls get an early taste of technology

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2005, 12:00am

Some people think that science is for boys, but a recent technology workshop proved that girls are suited to scientific pursuits too.

Organised by computer giant IBM, the EXITE (Exploring Interests in Technology and Engineering) Camp is an annual gathering which was launched in 1999.

The event aims to arouse girls' interest in science and technology. It was held in Hong Kong for the first time from August 8 to 12.

So far, more than 4,000 school girls from around the world have benefited from the organiser's efforts to promote information technology (IT) among female students.

Thirty girls aged 14 and 15 from Good Hope School, St Rose of Lima's College and Tak Nga Secondary School took part in a wide range of activities last week at the University of Hong Kong, Polytechnic University and the Institute of Vocational Education.

They also received training in teamwork, computer programming and webpage design.

They completed some difficult tasks, which included making a parachute from paper tissues and strings to carry a cup of water without spilling it, playing a human version of Scrabble with each girl representing one letter, and designing and building their own robots.

The girls agreed that the camp was a valuable experience.

'I thought IT people were strange and nerdy,' said Joey Lau from Good Hope School, who wanted to study medicine before joining the camp.

'But now I see the IT field is more flexible. It enables you to do what you want to do. I think it is more suitable for me.'

Aster Lin from Tak Nga Secondary School gained confidence and made more friends.

'When we were told to make a robot that can move its arms to remove obstacles ahead without instructions, I thought it was impossible. But we did it and we are proud of the determination we showed,' she said.

'We believe that girls have as strong an ability in maths and science as boys do. However, tradition has set limits on women's career paths,' said IBM general manager, Timothy Cheung. 'By providing a variety of hands-on activities, we hope to let them know what technology is really like, so that they can choose,' he said.