Meet + Mentor: An Inside Look at Turner Construction

Join us for an inside look at the Mid-State Medical Office Building construction site!

This month, we’re teaming up with Turner Construction Company (Turner) to give middle school girls across Nashville an inside look at exciting career options in the construction industry.

Now—more than ever—is a great time for girls and young women to consider a career in construction. If you are passionate about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the construction industry would be a great fit for you. Much more than just boots-in-the-dirt, hammers, and nails, the construction industry offers a variety of professions and opportunities.

Join us to learn the basics of construction management, tour an active construction site, and interact with talented women builders.

This is a drop-off event but parents must check in and out with their student(s) present. Check in begins at 9:45 a.m. Check out is promptly at 12:00 p.m. Closed-toe shoes and full-length pants are required. Turner will provide safety helmets, glasses, and vests.

Snacks will be provided, and the girls will leave with goodies to remember the experience.

Click the share button below to invite your classmates, friends and Girl Scout troop.

See you on Saturday, March 11th!


About Meet + Mentor: An Inside Look

Inside Look is a monthly employer-sponsored mentoring event series that connects middle school girls with women professionals and male allies from Nashville’s top companies. With tech talks, panel discussions, hands-on projects and more, the program is designed to grow participants’ interest in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and related fields (STEM+) and help them learn more about careers at Nashville’s top companies, preparing them for college and career.

Inside Look is an extension of our Meet + Mentor program committed to supporting diversity in Nashville’s workforce and the STEM+ industry as a whole through community-building, speed mentoring and skills development activities. Each three-hour experience includes an exclusive employee-guided tour of the host company, its laboratory, plant and/or other facilities, exposes students to a myriad of STEM+ and non-STEM+ careers at the company, introduces what’s new in tech through a hands-on product demonstration or STEM+ activity, and shares sage advice about high school courses, internships and training programs, college scholarships, majors and other pertinent topics related to choosing a career pathway into the industry.

In addition, the host company gets to highlight its social impact in the lives of Nashvillians and the world. This program intentionally elevates women who are natural role models and leaders in the community through partnership with Corporate Social Responsibility, Employee Resource Groups and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives already working in our community.

Note: Play Like a Girl no longer offers free-to-register programs and events. Free events, particularly during the COVID-19 era, carry extremely high no-show risks, thereby reducing our impact and risking our relationships with partners and sponsors who invest time, talent and treasure to deliver high-quality programming for our girls. 

Titans’ Derrick Henry builds bridges with girls at STRIVE

First impressions

The NFL’s best running back Derrick Henry made a new record during the Titans 27-17 win against the Packers last week. Henry, whose elite talent was on display in front of a national audience Thursday night, rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown — while also catching two passes for 45 yards (that included a key 42-yard grab on a Titans’ scoring drive). The coup de grâce came as Henry threw a three-yard touchdown pass (his second completion of the night) to tight end Austin Hooper and, ultimately, served the game-winning score.

Henry became the first player with at least 20 carries, two completions, a rushing touchdown and a touchdown pass in the same game since 1983 when the immortal Walter Payton did so. Like Payton, Henry is the best running back of his era, and his performance Thursday night should have added him to the list of players being considered for league MVP.

But Henry isn’t worried about accolades for himself, though. The former Heisman Trophy winner is, instead, focused on helping the Titans continue their 7-3 winning streak. 


A perfect fit

Henry represents excellence both on and off the field of play.

Recently, Henry spent a day building bridges made of Popsicle sticks meant to teach engineering design concepts and help female middle school students at STRIVE Collegiate Academy see the value of pursuing their interest in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and related fields (STEM+).

“Sport matters but what really matters is leveling the playing field for girls,” Henry said during a recent one-on-one with Dr. Kim. “I’m blessed to be able to use my platform to help Play Like a Girl deepen its work toward making this happen in our lifetime.”

Challenge accepted

Henry did what is second nature on the sports turf outdoors. Yup, he tossed a few balls and taught the girls a few winning moves. But he didn’t stop by for football alone. Henry was on campus for Play Like a Girl Day – and a fun and meaningful lesson in STEM+.

With the help of Henry and Bridgestone Americas employee volunteers, students learned how to engineer bridges using Popsicle sticks. Students worked in small groups to design and build a bridge to withstand weight, be sturdy, and with the least amount of resources possible. As a team, students were challenged to take initiative in proposing, designing, building, and evaluating their finished products to their peers. Each bridge was evaluated on effectiveness, design, creativity, and aesthetics.

This STEM+ lesson explores basic engineering concepts as well as challenges students to design and build their own versions of contemporary bridges. This project has been used in the past as a way to develop innovative bridges and has impacted the design of many bridges we see today. 

The Play Like a Girl Mission IRL

We think you’ll agree—this Minnesota teen is an embodiment of our mission

When Julia Chaffin decided she wanted to build a smart mirror for a summer project, she did what every 21st century teen would do—she turned to the internet. She was expecting to find clear, step-by-step instructions on how to use a computer monitor, some two-way mirror film and a Raspberry Pi kit to create a mirror that could display the date, time and current weather. But what she found was anything but beginner friendly.

So, what did she do? She took matters into her own hands, creating the nonprofit Smart View, which sells all-in-one mirror kits and provides easy-to-follow directions on how to program the software and assemble the mirror.

She knew she didn’t want to make money off the kits. That’s not in the spirit of Raspberry Pi’s open-source ecosystem. So, she again turned to the internet to find a worthy cause. This time, the internet didn’t let her down—it led her straight to Play Like a Girl!

“The whole tie-in with STEM for girls and sports and the belief that leadership comes from sports just really resonated with me,” she says.

You see, Julia also is an athlete. She plays both soccer and golf, which she describes as completely different in terms of what she’s gained from the sports. With soccer, it’s all about the confidence that she gets playing on a team. 

“Soccer has taught me to be more outgoing and to believe in myself more,” she says. “That definitely rolls over to school and other parts of my life.”

When Julia’s family moved to Switzerland for her mom’s work when she was younger, it was soccer that helped her make fast friends.

With golf, it’s more about the puzzle. “You think more about every single move,” she says. “You hit the ball and you have two minutes or more to decide what you’re going to do next. There’s definitely a lot more thinking. At first it was hard, because it’s so easy to get in your own head. But I’ve learned that if I have a bad shot, that’s OK. It just means I have to figure out where to go from there.” 

Julia is a junior in high school now and is on the cusp of getting to decide what’s next for her academically. Right now, she’s thinking about biomedical engineering. “Whether I go into medicine after that or design medical devices, those sound like super cool career paths,” she says.

And she already has built-in mentors—her mom, Kim, is a chemical engineer and a senior distinguished scientist for Medtronic, one of the biggest medical device companies in the world. Her brother is studying mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan (mom’s alma mater). “They were always saying to me,” she recounts. They said ‘Take an engineering class at some point to see if you like it.’”

Julia did take an engineering class (two, actually). But she doesn’t just like it—she loves engineering!


TGR Learning Lab

At the TGR Learning Lab, we are focused on opening your mind to potential careers and college majors available
to you. Instructors at the TGR Learning Lab Anaheim site will be offering FREE virtual summer classes for students
across the nation. These classes will be offered to students who will be in grades 6-8 starting in Fall 2021.

Engineering Construction Design
Have you always wanted to know how to build the perfect bridge? What about how to build the tallest tower or how
a parachute works? Learn all this and more in our Engineering Construction Design class! Using the engineering
design process, we will be constructing a bridge, tower, parachute and even a basketball. We will be using common
household items, so the hands-on activities can be done at home! Let’s become engineers!

Introduction to Cybersecurity
Our world is digitally connected through computers, smart phones, video game systems and many other smart
devices. This is the marvel of technology, but it can also be an unsafe place if we don’t understand how to carefully
navigate it. In this interactive class, you will learn about the internet, how it works, digital footprints, binary code,
encryption and careers. With the gained Cybersecurity knowledge, you will understand the importance of privacy,
protecting personal data and how to stay safe online.

What’s ‘App’ening in Computer Science
Computer science knowledge is a high-demand skill in today’s job market. In this class, you will learn fundamental
computer science concepts such as algorithm, conditional statement, variable, function and Boolean logic through
engaging hands-on activities. You will apply what you learned by programing an app using the AppLab on Code.
org. The completed app can be shared with classmates, friends and family at the end of the session.

Are you interested in working with animals? Come join our Zoology class to explore various careers that work with
animals and learn what to expect as a zoologist. You will be able to experience some projects that professionals in
this field may encounter and learn about the steps you can take if you are interested in pursuing zoology as a career!

Register HERE

The Spring STEAM Program

The Spring STEAM Program is a 5-day program of interactive workshops and lectures aimed to deepen the interests of young students interested in STEAM. The program will range from broad topics like exploring chemistry to advancing in HTML. Each day of the program will have 2 sessions in either Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, or Math, and will take place from 8:00-9:00 am or 1:00-2:00 pm (refer to the schedule for more details). If you are interested in your child (4th-8th grade) learning about STEAM, this would be a great opportunity to utilize their spring break.

In this event, mentors from all around the world (California, New York, Canada, Egypt, India) will be sharing their knowledge and experience to help students get started/interested in STEAM.

For more information and to register, click HERE

Meet Gracie: Software Engineer Saving Our Planet

Gracie Ermi is a knitter, Seattle Seahawks fan and outdoor enthusiast—but that’s not all. In her professional life, she is a software engineer who builds technology platforms that just might help save our planet. Her work focuses on preserving ocean health and protecting endangered animals like elephants, sharks and killer whales.

Gracie earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Science at Western Washington University, and has worked at Vulcan Inc. in Seattle, Washington for the last two years. Using coding and a technology called machine learning, she builds artificial intelligence programs -- training computers to do the most tedious aspects of conservation work, so that experts can focus on more important elements of their job.

As an American Association for the Advancement of Science If/Then Ambassador, Gracie shares her story as a way to inspire people, especially women and girls, to pursue computer science as an avenue to make a change in their communities and around the world. She wants to emphasize to everyone that coding is not magic; with practice, anyone can learn to do it. Plus, learning to code bursts open a whole world of financially beneficial and socially engaging opportunities.

Gracie is pumped to attend #GirlsRockSTEM, the 2020 Play Like a Girl Summit on March 7th at Middle Tennessee State University. There, she will share how she went from a middle school girl who knew she wanted to make a positive difference in the world (but had absolutely no idea what computer programming was), to a computer scientist working at an organization whose mission statement is, “Make and leave the world a better place.”

In middle school, Gracie would have never predicted she would pursue a future in technology. Now, her coding skills give her the opportunity to work on projects that 13-year-old Gracie would be incredibly inspired by.

Do you care about solving climate change? Getting every dog adopted? Making sure that everyone has enough to eat?

Gracie, alongside her friend and colleague, Afua Bruce (Chief Program Officer at DataKind), will engage with attendees at the Play Like a Girl Summit to reflect on the kind of world they want to live in. Student attendees will be empowered to envision themselves contributing to these causes and more.

Gracie and Afua will show students how gaining technology skills can be a powerful avenue for creating the change you want to see in the world. It is of massive importance that we listen to and encourage the unique and powerful ideas of girls if we want to build a future where every person, animal and plant thrives.

Follow Gracie and her amazing adventures in STEM  on Twitter @gracieermi.