News Local/State

MakerGirl Brings 3-D Printing To Young Girls

Girl at computer

Caitlyn Deegan, sophomore in materials science and engineering, assists Nora, 8, with her 3-D design of Mars. Nora attended the "Print Your Way To Space" workshop with MakerGirl on Tuesday, March 15, at the Business Instructional Facility at the University of Illinois. Christine Herman / Illinois Public Media

Men continue to outnumber women in many fields of science and engineering. One local program - MakerGirl - is trying to narrow that gap.  The program gives young girls hands-on experience with 3-D printing.

This week, a group of six girls, ages 7 to 10, participated in the "Print Your Way To Space" session at the Illinois MakerLab, located at the Business Instructional Facility at the University of Illinois.

The girls learned how to use a computer program, Tinkercad, to design 3-D objects and print them out on the 3-D printers. 

Eight-year-old Nora sits in front of the computer with her legs scrunched up on the chair, and her arms wrapped around her knees. She chose to design a model of the planet Mars. Caitlyn Deegan, who was leading the workshop, helped Nora position the shapes so that they would be ready to print. Deegan is a sophomore is materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois.

MakerGirl is now raising money in preparation for a cross-country roadtrip to bring 3-D printing experiences to areas where girls might otherwise never have the chance to learn about this technology.

One of MakerGirl's co-founders, Julia Haried, came onto The 21st Show today to discuss MakerGirl's vision and roadtrip plans. Haried is a master's student in accountancy science. 

Western Illinois University Assistant Professor Abha Singh also joined the conversation. Singh, a science education researcher, says there is a great need for science outreach in rural areas, where many students don't have their first formal science class until middle school. 

Listen to that segment below, or at

Emily Scott contributed to this report. This story is the result of an ongoing collaboration between WILL and journalism faculty at the U of I College of Media.