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LITAS Shortlisted for Nature Research Awards

We are delighted to share that LITAS For Girls has been shortlisted for the Nature Research Awards in Innovating Science! We have been chosen as one of 5 shortlisted applicants globally for our achievements in guiding young women in STEM.

Thanks to our sponsors & partners Johnson & Johnson, Society for Science & the Public, & National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) for their support for the organization and our mission, and to Nature + Estee Lauder for encouraging #womeninstem!

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LITAS Making Impact in Panchkula, India

Making an impact worldwide – Over 200 girls and 4 teachers participated in the LITAS workshop at CLDAV, Sector 11 Panchkula, India. Over 98% of the girls said they would be interested in continuing with computer science and our training modules in our platform!

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Workshop at the Shri Ram School, Moulsari

We recently collaborated with The Girl Code on a Coding workshop at the Shri Ram School, Moulsari, New Delhi to organize a competition to come up with an innovative idea for incorporating technology in real life. We sponsored the awards for girls using coding for real world applications. All the students of the workshop came up with creative and out-of-the-box ideas!

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Girls attending the workshop

Some of the eye catching projects were:

  1. A smart refrigerator that creates a list of items in your fridge and automatically re-stocks on them when they're running low via online orders.
  2. A panel installed in public bathrooms which scan people's hands to check for bacteria and does not unlock the door until there is a certain specific amount.
  3. An online platform that helps promote LGBTQ+ acceptance via videos and informational pages. It can feature well known members of the community
  4. An educational website which hosts all coursework textbooks and has a peer-to-peer studying system built into it. The site also has all your teachers available on it.

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Girls presented their projects with lot of enthusiasm 

The project concerning panel in the public bathrooms came out to be the winner, receiving a cash prize and a certificate. All the top projects were given certificates of appreciation.

Participants also signed up on the LITAS online learning platform to continue to have access to courses on Web Development, Python, and even Artificial Intelligence!

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Draft of the victorious project and winners with the certificates

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LITAS Certified Program: She STEMs in Fremont, CA

We are excited to share the progress of one of our LITAS Certified Programs through the NCWIT Aspire IT program - She STEMs! She STEMs is run by Ashley Chu from Alameda, CA.

Noticing the lack of girls in their AP Computer Science class and the disparity of women in STEM, Ashley and other high school students started the organization in order to empower young girls in the fields of hardware, computing, and entrepreneurship. By helping the participants gain confidence through hands-on experience with hardware, the team strives towards having students solve problems in their community by creating technology based solutions to these issues.


Under the Alameda Boys & Girls Club Initiative, 15 girls from grades 4-9 have joined their program. They have been meeting every Wednesday since January 23rd from 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm and will continue till the last week of May. 3D printing with TinkerCAD and building paper circuits with LEDs using Arduino has been covered till now. They are planning to bring speakers from Pixar and Adobe to give a talk and interact with the students.

She STEMs conduct free workshops in various locations along with a two-week camp held in the summer. Students work in pairs on mini projects that aim to solve practical problems. Basic programming skills with a block platform are taught to the students using Spheros. They gradually move on to more complicated topics of arduinos. Last summer, She STEMs had a group that created an autonomous vehicle using arduinos.

She STEMs promotes diversity by focusing on girls from low-income backgrounds and students from different regions within the Bay Area. Their programs are low-cost, and they even offer 5+ scholarships to those who need it. Apart from this, they are trying to find students in foster care to help them receive these opportunities and spark their passions in STEM

LITAS is excited to work with them through the NCWIT partnership programs. We will be supporting their organisation by providing them access to LITAS Learn, our online curriculum and mentorship resources.

If you are interested in partnering with LITAS for Girls and being LITAS certified, please email us avgupta@litas4girls.org for more information on our certification program.

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March LITAS Workshop at IIT Madras

On the tenth of March, LITAS for Girls organised a workshop on using Python for Artificial Intelligence at IIT Madras, Chennai, India in collaboration with the Women in CS chapter of IIT Madras. Undergraduate girls from various engineering departments ranging from freshmen to seniors attended the workshop. Students who signed up were given access to the LITAS Learn website and our curriculum on introduction to machine learning to aid the workshop.

The workshop on machine learning using Python was targeted at beginners and introduced the field of artificial intelligence. Sowmya, the head of the WiCS chapter conducted the half-day workshop with the help of volunteers. Concepts of regression and classification were taught with the help of the LITAS Learn platform and interactive Google Collab notebooks. It was an interactive session where the students were given time after each topic to code their own regression and classification programs, and clarify their doubts with the volunteers.

One of the real-life examples the participants coded was building a predictor of IMDB ratings for a movie based on various features such as the number of reviews, budget, and likes. Another example built by the participants was classification of wine into classes depending on its composition. The students were given LITAS swag and participation certificates at the end of the workshop.


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LITAS Mentorship Feature: Ria Vora & Katherine Kurtin

See what our LITAS alumni and mentors have been up to!

Ria Vora is the head of Girls in STEM, one of our LITAS certified clubs. She interned as a business development intern for eight weeks at Neolth under Dr. Katherine Curtin, a Behavorial Neuroscientist specializing in Integrative and Behavioral Health and a mentor for LITAS for Girls. During the internship, Ria accompanied Dr. Curtin to workshops, pitch competitions and networking events in San Francisco including the MedTech Innovator Pitch Event. She also conducted supervised research each week on various topics such as mental health, artificial intelligence and digital health.

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LITAS Launches COVID-19 Taskforce

LITAS For Girls has recently launched a series of virtual seminars for middle and high school girls, focused on how data science can be used to combat pandemics such as the COVID-19 pandemics. The organization has also assembled the LITAS COVID-19 taskforce, a virtual community of students from around the globe working on original projects to combat COVID-19.

Though we are far apart, we can still build solutions together. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of life across the globe. The number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 8 million worldwide, with 446k deaths (WHO).

According to the UN Council, COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency — but it is far more. It is an economic crisis.  A social crisis.  And a human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis.

There is a need for innovative ideas and actions from all quarters to help with COVID-19 relief efforts. LITAS For Girls has assembled a community of students passionate to learn and use data science to help combat this pandemic through webinars, student projects, and a vibrant online community of students.

LITAS's first webinar on Data Science and Pandemics, held on 28th March 2020, aimed at teaching students how data science has been used to battle diseases in the past, such as 2014 Ebola Epidemic, and discuss current approaches and potential projects using data analytics for the Covid 19 outbreak. The second webinar was held on Saturday, April 19th.

The events were hosted by Anvita Gupta (founder & CEO, LITAS for Girls, Stanford 2019, speaker at the White House Ebola Innovator Summit.) The first half was a technical talk and the second half consisted of a brainstorming session for students to come up with COVID-19 related projects.

For the webinars, LITAS selected thirty high school and college girls who learned about how data science has been used to combat past pandemics, played with The New York Times and #johnshopkins epidemiology datasets, and brainstormed eight original projects to help with the COVID19 crisis.

Project 1 - Fake News Detection 

There is a great amount of false information circulating on Whatsapp, FB, and other platforms regarding COVID-19. This project aims to flag fake news and alert people before it goes "viral." through Natural Language Processing techniques and data scraping from social media platforms.

 

Project 2 - Dashboard for daily COVID-19 management 

This project aims to create a comprehensive app to help people track number of COVID-19 cases in their county, what their social distancing score is, restaurants and activities that are open in their area, as well as alerts from city management.

 

Project 3 - ML to Predict Curve Flattening 

Using Machine Learning + physical data (GIS+LIDAR) to predict when the COVID-19 curve will start flattening. First step might be to correlate COVID-19 with environmental features like elevation.

 

Project 4 - App for store management 

App so that shops and customers can track how many people are in line, can possibly reserve times to visit the store (like one does with restaurants), in order to promote social distancing for safer shopping.

 

Project 5 - Prioritizing people for tests 

Tracking people's symptoms through user based input and natural language processing techniques. Users will be assigned a score based on their risk due to COVID-19, in order to prioritize which people need tests more quickly.

 

Project 6 - Distributed Drug Discovery 

This project aims to allow people to donate computer time for large scale drug discovery projects. This project can involve drug discovery efforts for COVID-19 in general.

 

Project 7 - Ventilator Next

Using AI to predict which places will be in need of ventilators in the next few weeks, allowing manufacturers to direct their attention to making and shipping ventilators to those places.

Project 8 - Mask Delivery

This project aims to create a platform - specifically a webapp - to connect communities and clubs making DIY masks with hospitals and institutions who require cloth masks.


Watch this space for more on our webinars, COVID-19 projects, and student community.

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LITAS Team Builds App for COVID-19 Tracking and Info

A team of high school students from the LITAS COVID-19 Taskforce recently built a webapp, called the "COVID-19 Zip Code Decoder" to help users retrieve information about the COVID-19 outbreak in their area based on their zip code.

The COVID-19 Zip Code Decoder was built by Oceana Covington (AZ), Megan Howell (AZ), Anjali Prabhu (CA), Chloe Rozalsky (AZ), and Adena Russel (PA) to give individuals access to accurate, centralized information about COVID-19 restrictions and active cases in their areas.

The LITAS For Girls COVID-19 Taskforce is a community of students from high school and college using their computer science skills to build real-world projects to help with COVID-19 relief efforts. The taskforce was launched in April of 2020 in response to the worsening COVID-19 situation.

As their motivation, the students wrote that:

"Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, there are not many places on the internet with all the information for residents residing in specific zip codes. Therefore, to solve this problem, we created a website that has several sources of information for residents in various states across the United States of America.

The information includes the number of COVID-19 cases in different zip codes and cities, the operation status for restaurants (open or closed), and the Twitters of state governors and city mayors. This information helps citizens to make more informed decisions on current, reliable COVID information and best respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through safety practices and procedures such as social distancing, isolation, and quarantine."

The COVID-19 Zipcode Decoder was built with HTML, CSS, and Javascript, and deployed online by the students to be freely and widely available. The app is available on Github and online at https://tinyurl.com/covid19-zipcode-decoder.

The students conducted a presentation and a brief Q&A session about their project.

What was the top skill that you learned doing this project?

Anjali: "I was completely new to Github...that helped me get really familiar and I figured out it was a really easy way to put all our code in one area and it was easy for us to edit."

Chloe: "I was also new to Github and Sublime, so it was definitely a wonderful learning experience for me. It was wonderful to meet people from across the country and to complete this project."

Oceana: "I've learned a lot about the effects of COVID-19. I also learned more about collaboration, especially across the board - across the United States and even across the world, so it's been really fun."

How experienced were you with coding before?

Oceana: "I hadn't done a lot of web dev before, I had only created very small websites, so this was a bigger project."

Megan: "I had built a webapp before in Rails, and in HTML and Javascript." Megan also created videos to help train other students on Github and Sublime for this project.

Chloe: "I wasn't particularly experienced with coding or web development before, so this really helped me to expand my knowledge."

Adena: "I was familiar with the basics but hadn't ever developed a website before. I think this expanded my knowledge or exposure to HTML and CSS and Javascript whenever it was used."

What has the COVID-19 Taskforce meant for you?

Anjali: "This was project was really important for me because it was one of my first exposures to working on something that was actually going to benefit a lot of people. Also, my team was amazing. They guided me throughout and they gave me so much help. I want to thank the LITAS group for providing me with this opportunity and this is so important. So I really enjoyed coding this project and it was really fun."

Chloe: "Thank you so much LITAS For Girls for providing us with this amazing opportunity. I loved meeting everybody and people I wouldn't have met otherwise, except through this experience. I thought that it was a great way to understand how to budget our time to create a project in the time we wanted to get it done in."

Adena: "Coming into this project, we each had an idea that we wanted to come together and help other people. Coming into this community and working with this team helped me to foster new friends and relationships, and create something that I wouldn't have been able to create individually and meet people from all over the country."

Megan: "I took the role of heading up the team. The most important part for me was seeing my team grow and want to jump in and get started, and build confidence. We built something that is impactful and influential, and we stuck with it, which I think is super important, and it shows a lot about all of us and our character."

Oceana: "I really enjoyed getting to be a part of this project and to expand my global view, and realize that no matter where we are in the world, we can make a real difference and we can help people. I've really enjoyed getting to work with everyone. Thanks LITAS for giving girls this opportunity - it's been an amazing opportunity for growth and for being able to change the world a little bit."


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LITAS Certified WeCanToo program and Khushi Gupta Interview

We are excited to share that the LITAS Certified program, The WeCanToo program, successfully completed its first ever summer session! The program was three weeks long, with one additional meeting. It aimed at teaching middle and high school girls how to code and build their own websites. 

LITAS For Girls is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that aims to inspire middle school girls to pursue careers in STEM. LITAS aims to mold girls to be the next generation of leaders in CS+STEM, with both the creativity to come up with game-changing ideas and the skills to implement them. 

By teaching teamwork, brainstorming, and presentation skills alongside computer science, LITAS programs build confidence in girls and prepare them for a future in STEM fields.

The program was organized by Khushi Gupta, Aarya Dharm, Leela Banerjee, Donna Prince, and Lily Baker, all rising seniors in Dublin High. 

Twelve girls ranging from 6th to 10th grade participated in building their first ever website using HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, and GitHub every weekend for two-hours sessions. The program featured guest speaker Hannah Shimoga, intern at Cisco.

Additionally, the girls learned essential skills to prepare them for the competitive STEM environment. The program concluded successfully with a miniature competition in which the best website was voted for by both the organizers and the participants.

In an exclusive talk, Khushi Gupta, organizer of the program, shares experiences and insights with LITAS students.

To start with, tell us a little bit about yourself - what school and grade are you currently in? What are some of your hobbies and interests?

I am a senior in Dublin High currently. Some of my hobbies include art, jewelry making, graphic design, reading, and dance. I am passionate about computer science engineering and electrical engineering.

What motivated you to start your program promoting young women in STEM? 

I wanted to start my program because of the disparity I noticed in my own classrooms. Many of the males in my engineering classes had already participated in some workshops before and understood the basics of coding before even taking the class, while many girls in my class were learning to code for the first time. This gave the boys in my class the upper hand and allowed them to have more involvement in group projects because they just knew more. I wanted to change this for the upcoming batches, teaching females early on aspects of coding so that they too can be better prepared for future engineering courses. 

What was the top thing you learned from running a LITAS program?

The top thing I learned from running a LITAS program is that just because you know more than another does not mean you cannot learn from them. While teaching the girls HTML and CSS, I learned more about these languages myself, troubleshooting problems I didn't know could occur. I even learned new styling tags from the girls who added new features to their websites. I had expected this program to be me just teaching concepts I thought I already understood, but instead I found myself learning alongside the participants, better understanding communication skills, and building relationships.

Who is your female role model, in tech or otherwise?

My female role model is Aviva from the children's television show, Wild Kratts. Aviva is the tech savvy girl who controlled the Tortuga (their aircraft) and made the creature power suits. I remember as a child watching her create the creature power suits for a variety of animals, fix malfunctions on the Tortuga, and do other amazing things. As a young girl she inspired me to work on technology so, at that time, I could create my own creature power suits, but now she continues to inspire me to have a positive impact on the world using engineering.

What is your dream career, or area you'd like to make an impact in the future? 

My dream career would be to start my own company/organization. I would like to make an impact for women in STEM and normalize females in more dominant positions in the tech industry.

One message you'd like to send to other girls of your age who are considering a future in STEM, but are unsure if it's for them?

I was once in your shoes. I didn't think STEM would be the right match for me. But the workshops I did and the more programs I participated in, the more in love I found myself with STEM. So, if there is one main message I would like to give, it's this, ‘don't lose opportunities.’ Always be open minded to whatever may come because you never know, that workshop on Python may lead you to your future career as a software developer. And if an experience didn't click with you, that's okay, STEM is a large field that is continuously growing, so just keep searching.

Watch this space for more of our upcoming student chapters and programs. 

Stay Safe!

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