Play Like a Girl recently held its second Meet + Mentor day camp for middle school girls, this time in Memphis. Academy Sports + Outdoors staff, University of Alabama strength and conditioning coach Michelle Martin Diltz, and Memphis Redbirds employee volunteers participated in the event.

Girls were divided into small teams after hearing from a team of female architects who led construction of AutoZone Park, the stadium and ballpark the Redbirds call home. Students were given the task to build a play structure for younger Redbirds fans’ enjoyment.

The teams created play structures using LEGO bricks as a learning tool to practice building and learning advanced STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) concepts in a fun, hands-on way. Each team was provided a wide range of LEGO bricks and accessories – such as doors, windows, etc. – for which each color was assigned a specific dollar value. 

With a budget of $1 million, teams needed to think carefully about what they wanted to build and what bricks they needed versus which would be nice to have. Then they made a plan for how to spend their money toward completion of their structures. Some teams even drew out a design for their play structures before building a prototype using the LEGO bricks.

While this activity took some time and was difficult for some struggling learners, it was a good hands-on activity that made budgeting and engineering design concepts more concrete for students. The activity promoted problem-solving and was perfect for teams with strong verbal communicators and those organized around each student’s strengths. And an added bonus: This project was deeply satisfying because the girls got to create something of their own, on their own. 

Structures featured playgrounds with interactive games for kids, a picnic deck, mazes, a kid dugout and slide, video game stations, face painters, balloon artists, and a carousel and a ferris wheel. All except one structure came within the budget. Students’ final products were judged by a jury of their peers. Members of the winning team were awarded their own LEGO set to continue building and learning.

Employee volunteers from the Redbirds led a career panel before breaking into small groups to informally mentor the girls and answer questions about their college choices and career paths. 

Camp ended with short skills rotations where Michelle instructed campers on facets of the game including hitting, fielding, pitching, and team play. Running, jumping, and stretching were also stressed. 

With extensive subject matter expertise, expert instruction, quality facilities and a challenging and motivating learning environment that brought together individuals of all ages and backgrounds, this Meet + Mentor experience ignited moments of discovery where students were able to connect STEM to their futures.

Hosted by Play Like a Girl, Meet + Mentor is an ongoing celebration of local girls and the women role models who inspire them. These events bring together Academy employees, brand ambassadors and corporate volunteers. 

Participating students will be featured in a three-part YouTube series showcased across Academy’s social channels late this summer.

Photos from the Memphis event