A group of 150 middle school girls from Santa Cruz County learned about the possibilities available to them in fields related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) during a recent conference in Nogales.

The second-annual Technolochicas Lift conference, held March 2 at the Santa Cruz Center in Nogales, featured a panel discussion with a group of “technolochicas” – Latina women who have succeeded in STEM-related professions.

The women also facilitated two, hour-long workshops with the middle-schoolers.

The technolochicas included Eliana Calderon, a manager at a nickel mine in Colombia owned by South32, which sponsored the conference. She also facilitated an activity that taught the students about a problem-solving process known as “design thinking.”

“The summit is an extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate binational support for Latina girls, and I was delighted to help inspire these young students to consider a career in STEM,” Calderon said in a news release issued by South32.

The Technolochicas Lift program was developed by the Televisa Foundation to increase the number of girls in Hispanic communities pursuing technology-related studies by the time they reach high school.

The Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office, along with its partners, has established the after-school program at Desert Shadows, Wade Carpenter, Calabasas and Coatimundi middle schools, along with Lourdes Catholic School and Patagonia and Little Red elementary schools.

According to the superintendent’s office, the curriculum is designed to “empower, excite, encourage, and engage girls in computer programming, coding and robotics,” and is being implemented on each campus for two or three hours a week.

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