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IBM R&D Labs in Israel

image: IBM and Haifa

Science: Now that's EXITEing!

IBM Haifa technology camp encourages teenage girls to pursue a technology career

Last week, the IBM Research Lab in Haifa was transformed by visiting teenage girls participating in this year's IBM EXITE (Exploring Interests in Information Technology and Engineering) camp. Twenty-three girls from three ORT Israel Sci-Tech high schools in the northern Israeli towns of Karmiel, Sajur, and Isfiya were hand-picked based on their schools for their aptitude in science.

Girls, learn more tech

The highlight of the week was the coaching sessions, in which the girls split up into small groups and learned such topics as robotics, computer programming, or computer science concepts.

The programming group, for example, focused on learning Alice, the educational 3D environment. Campers had fun creating animations of a love story and the lunar landing while learning about such programming concepts as statements, instructions, and loops.

Eli Isenberg, the assistant director of ORT and the head of R&D and training for the educational network, explained that a brief study of the past four years of Haifa EXITE participants showed a clear increase in the number of girls who are selecting a science track in high school.

"Research has shown that girls are just as capable in computer science as boys," he explained. "All we want is for girls to learn more technology. We just need to help them realize how interesting and worthwhile this field is, and the rest they'll do on their own."

The director of the Authority for the Advancement of Women in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, Vered Swed, also expressed her encouragement and support for girls technology programs such as EXITE.

What the EXITEment is all about


Science experiment at the 2011 Haifa EXITE camp
Haifa EXITE camp EXITE camps take place at IBM locations around the world. These week-long science and technology camps are designed to get girls interested in engineering as a career. This year's program was the fourth year in a row EXITE was offered in Haifa as a joint program of IBM Research – Haifa, IBM Israel, and the IBM Human Resources team in Israel.

"It was very exciting to see the girls having so much fun and learning at the same time. That's what makes EXITE such a unique program," explained Gili Ginzburg, community relations coordinator at IBM Research – Haifa. "We also have a lot of employees who volunteer for the program, and it's clear they enjoy it as much as the girls do."

The week-long camp finished off with a graduation ceremony in which the girls presented their projects. The robotics team demonstrated a Lego robot they programmed to follow several different courses using sensors, the Alice teams showed two movies documenting the programs they created, and the computer science concepts group performed mathematical magic tricks. But, then again, the magic had been taking place all week long.

 

At a glance

The Haifa EXITE camp consisted of a whirlwind of math and science programming for girls. Typical days included short tech presentations, hands-on science activities, and coaching sessions with IBM researchers.

The EXITE program in IBM

The goal of EXITE camps is simple: spark the interest of teenage girls so that they continue taking the math and science classes that will position them for future careers in these fields. Since its inception, 85 percent of the more than 6,400 girls who participated in an EXITE Camp indicated that they would consider pursuing an engineering or technology-related degree when they go to college.

Your IBM expert

Gili Ginzburg-Aizen, Senior Manager, Analytics, IBM Research

Gili Ginzburg-Aizen: Manager, Administration & Community Relations Coordinator, IBM Research

Iris Ron, Manager of HR Development, IST  Leader (Learning, Recruitment, Well-Being, HRIT), IBM CHQ, Human Resources

Iris Ron: Manager of HR Development, IST Leader (Learning, Recruitment, Well-Being, HRIT), IBM CHQ, Human Resources

Mazal Galor: Manager of Marketing & Communications, IBM Sales & Distribution, Marketing

Mazal Galor: Manager of Marketing & Communications, IBM Sales & Distribution, Marketing

Ettie Gilead: Manager, External and Internal Communications, IBM Research

Ettie Gilead: Manager, External and Internal Communications, IBM Research

Connie Klein: Community Relations and Corporate Responsibility, IBM Sales & Distribution, Marketing

Connie Klein: Community Relations and Corporate Responsibility, IBM Sales & Distribution, Marketing