Name: Kristal Marcano
Class Year: 2021
Minor: Education and Child and Family Studies
Hometown: Worcester, Mass.
Internship Organization: Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey
Title: Program Facilitator and Senior Intern
Location: 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia
What’s happening at my internship?
Since our camp is usually in person but has been switched to virtual, a lot is happening at my internship. Every day from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., our group of 35 rising ninth-grade girls are tackling different lessons, challenges, and experiments. The Eureka! program consists of 50 percent STEM, 25 percent personal development/growth, and 25 percent sports/health/wellness. Over the last week, we have worked with Sphero Robots, which use coding programming to guide them. The girls were divided into three groups—beginners, intermediate, and advanced—and were given challenges according to their group. The beginners were given an obstacle course and had to program each of their robots to go through the course without freestyle movements. The intermediates had to create their course and use the “movement sensors” to program the robot to move freely while being aware of any items in its way and switching its movement accordingly. Finally, the advanced group used its collision setting to create a virtual obstacle course by observing the robots' preprogrammed moves to determine where the obstacles were, and what kind of obstacles would cause the robots' movements. These activities were divided into three different days in between our personal development lessons and our career explorations.
Why did I apply for this internship?
The correct term would be “reapply” since this is my second summer working with them, and the answer to that is because I loved working with them the first time around. Ever since I joined Girls Inc. in January of 2019, I felt at home. From the combination of academic and personal growth to representing underrepresented groups of students, I was hooked. Eureka! in particular caught my interest because it creates a way to help girls like me who do not feel like society has a place for them outside of the traditional walls. We challenge our girls to be strong, smart, and bold, all while being 100-percent themselves, and I fully support that message. In addition, when I found out we were going virtual I knew our girls would need even more support, which meant I had to be here for them.
I must say, working remotely has surely been a trip the past few weeks. From meetings for the camp, to setting up kit pickup days and adjusting our lesson plans to fit virtual settings, it has been both challenging and a learning experience. Preparing to go virtual has had its sad moments. Having to realize our plans can no longer be done with a group has hit me several times, each time as hard as the last. The hardest transition has been creating engaging lessons that are conducive to all of our girls and trying to assess each day and lesson without having it feel like summer school. Not to mention that the months of Zoom classes prior to our camp only elongates the feeling of school or a virtual classroom. Our funding got cut, some of our partnerships dropped, and we even had a group of our volunteers face job losses as a result of COVID-19, which impacted our team first hand. In the same manner, however, there have been moments of joy and happiness. Because we can only do virtual lessons, we have been able to reach out to empowering women we would otherwise have not crossed paths with. The virtual route has allowed for our girls to interact with women in their desired fields and see how important their jobs are even in the midst of a pandemic.
Furthermore, my leading lady, Sarah, and I have been forced to get even more creative with our lessons, which has led to some memorable moments with our girls. As much as I am forced to step outside of my comfort zone, the girls are encouraged to do the same, and we have even made it into an everyday routine. Before each of our STEM lessons, one of the girls will lead us into titling, shifting, or stepping outside of our comfort zones and keeping an open mind about what will come next. This step is probably the most rewarding part of the day because each shift is different regardless of the girl and you can see how open a girl is to trying out the following activity. To look back at a girl stepping outside of her comfort zone from the beginning, and the actions she has made towards this at the end of a lesson plan, is always astonishing and pride filling.
Visit the Summer 2020 Internships page to read more student stories.