The CuriosITy Initiative started in November 2015, when four Grade 10 Brescia House School girls were challenged, as part of the worldwide Microsoft Student Partners programme,1 to run a project that would make a difference in the community.
The students identified that traditionally, girls do not choose information technology (IT) as a career path, nor do many girls select IT as a matriculation subject at school. The Brescia students then came up with an idea to host a special elegant dinner for girls like themselves, who were interested in a career in IT. The first CuriosITy Dinner was held in May 2016, when 130 Grade 11 girls representing 36 schools from all over Gauteng enjoyed a special sponsored dinner, along with 100 IT or computer applications technology (CAT) teachers and various professionals from the IT industry. In 2017, Brescia House School hosted 200 girls representing 44 schools across Gauteng and Mpumalanga. In 2018, Brescia House School expanded the CuriosITy Initiative to include an afternoon of workshops, covering various topics, followed by a special dinner. The workshops focused on new technologies and devices including micro-bits, robotics, coding, green-screen movie production and more. During the dinner, the girls sat with a range of IT professionals, giving them the opportunity to share ideas about women in the technology industry. One hundred and fifty-seven girls registered to attend the workshops in the afternoon, and 210 girls registered to attend the dinner in the evening. The girls represented 43 schools from across Gauteng and one school from Kuruman in the Northern Cape.
A plethora of possibilities
This year, the CuriosITy Initiative was held in May. More than 180 girls and their teachers, from 45 different schools across Gauteng and Mpumalanga, attended the workshops and dinner. The workshops focused on current technologies and there was a special workshop this year specifically for teachers. They and the students could choose to learn about:
- Microsoft Flipgrid
- green screen with iPads and Do Ink
- Sphero robotics
- hour of code
- Microsoft OneNote
- coding and chemistry in Minecraft Education
- sign up for Mahala and unlock the value of Office 365
- the magic of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) (Google expectations and Merge cubes)
- New Scratch 3.0
- Cozmo Robot
- social media workshop
- VR with Vive
- robots: Dash, Dot, Cue, mBot
- CliffCentral Radio
- 3D printing, AR and VR
- aeronautics space and drones
- cryptocurrencies and blockchains – drones, mining rigs and cryptocurrency transactions
- teachers – unlocking the value of Microsoft in education and Office 365 for teachers.
During the dinner, which was attended by 350 Grade 11 girls, their teachers and various IT professionals, the CuriosITy Initiative hosted a panel discussion focusing on several topics relevant to both the students and IT professionals present, and invited questions from the floor. The members of the dinner panel were Corien Vermaak (chair), Shaun Edmeston, Tony Christodoulou, Natasha Bezuidenhout, Soso Motloung and Karmanie Govender. The CuriosITy Dinner is a non-profit initiative hosted by Brescia House School to inspire girls to pursue IT-related careers. The initiative relies on the generous sponsorship of companies such as First National Bank (FNB), Microsoft, ITrelated companies and various IT professionals to allow the girls and their teachers to attend the workshops and special dinner for free.
Helga Bishop is head of marketing and admissions at Brescia House School. Should you wish to get involved with this remarkable initiative, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org