Outcomes to Celebrate: The First Four Weeks of Pretty Brilliant

In February Pretty Brainy launched a new workshop in lighting design and engineering design thinking. Through the program, which we aptly named Pretty Brilliant, girls in middle and high school are designing the lighting for a Habitat for Humanity home for a single mother and her children in Fort Collins, CO.

While learning and applying the necessary science and engineering within the design thinking process, the girls also are being mentored by engineering majors at Colorado State University (CSU). Pretty Brilliant is the first program of its kind to benefit Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity, says Executive Director Kristen Candella. Following the design process, the girls will install their work in the Habitat home.

After just four weeks, we celebrate the following —

Number #1: Parents’ Thanks and Appreciation

Excerpts from emails we received from parents after Day Number #1 of Pretty Brilliant include these —

“I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much my daughter and I appreciate all the dedication you have put into your programs. It is very clear how much you care about creating something meaningful and you are succeeding!  

“I have found it is difficult for girls to visualize a path, whether it be sports, academics or creatively and finding successful mentors who are willing to share time and expertise can be extremely challenging. Pretty Brilliant is exactly what I love to see.”

“I had high expectations going into Pretty Brilliant. I was blown away. Hearing how Pretty Brilliant came to fruition brought tears to my eyes. Hearing the engineering students share their majors and dream jobs was inspiring. I didn’t want to leave when parents were excused!

“Please know the work you are doing matters. You are building competence and confidence in girls across Fort Collins, and most importantly to me, you are building competence and confidence in MY girl.”

Number #2: Building Towers and Teams, Confidence and Community

Girls science and engineering learning through Pretty Brilliant.To build girls’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), we endeavor to build their confidence in their abilities. Through Pretty Brilliant, we’re also building a STEM community on which girls can rely, and Workshop Day Number #1 included engaging our new team in the Marshmallow Challenge.

girls science education includes learning to innovate and collaborate

Our objective? Break the ice, build camaraderie, foster collaboration, and begin to know team members for their contributions and talents.

Briana Chamberlain, a CSU engineering major who is mentoring a subteam of some of the youngest design engineers, writes, “I feel it is so important to help girls realize the power that comes from math, science, and engineering and how many fun opportunities there are in these fields.” She continues —

“Pretty Brilliant has been such a positive and amazing experience for me personally, and I know I don’t want to be done with this kind of work just when the project is over.”

The investment in the middle and high school girls from all of the engineering majors is linked to our next outcome to celebrate —

Number #3: Twenty-one Girls Say, “If I Don’t Understand Something During Pretty Brilliant, I Feel Comfortable Asking a Question or Asking for Help”

Forming questions is a key STEM skill. But for a girl, feeling the comfort and self-confidence to reveal what she might not know is even greater. In an anonymous poll, twenty-one of twenty-two girls said they feel this comfort and confidence during Pretty Brilliant. One said she was unsure.

Number #4: Foundation and Corporate Partners and Private Donors

girls science learning: measuring voltage drop.

Do You Know What This Measures? Environmental Lights Engineer Candice Garcia with the Equation for Measuring Voltage Drop.

Progress happens with the grace and investment of community, and community partnerships help drive the Pretty Brainy mission and vision.

Pretty Brilliant began thanks to an offer of support from Environmental Lights co-founder and mother of three daughters, Anne Thorson.

Major support also comes from the OtterCares Foundation, champion of innovative, pioneering education for young people in which entrepreneurship and philanthropy form a cornerstone of the learning.

Support comes from Rotary Clubs of Fort Collins, CO, and their vision of STEM literacy for all children, as well as from Whole Foods Market.

We are grateful for the financial support of Cynthia Molson, MaryAnne Heyman, and Lewis James Striggow.

Number #5: Instruction & Inspiration from the Engineers of Environmental Lights

girls science, engineering, and design thinking

Pretty Brilliant Students from the Perspective of the Engineers at Environmental Lights in San Diego. Photo courtesy of Environmental Lights.

girls science and engineering tutorial

The Environmental Lights Team Applauds the Pretty Brilliant Design Engineers During an Online Tutorial. Photo courtesy of Environmental Lights.

Environmental Lights, a major supporter of Pretty Brilliant, also contributes the time and talent of their engineers. During Week Number #3, Candice Garcia, Bruce Bishop, Alicia Cheng, and Mallory Riggs devoted themselves to hands-on instruction with our team via Skype.

As a result, the design engineers of Pretty Brilliant know, among other key learning, the importance of measuring voltage drop, how to use a multimeter, and how to select the best light colors for their client’s needs. Importantly, our all-girl team, from fifth graders to college undergrads, are working with engineers who are in the field, who love their work, and most of whom happen to be women.

Thank You for Celebrating with Us

To know more about Pretty Brilliant, see New STEAM Workshop for Girls Combines Philanthropy and Mentoring.