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CHICAGO — It was 2014 when a couple of University of Illinois students noticed there were barely any women in their STEM courses. That moment was a game changer and the beginning of a movement called MakerGirl.

Elizabeth Engele, Julia Haried and Stephanie Hein started a non-profit campaign to get more young girls interested in science, math and technology. Research shows girls begin turning away from STEM courses during middle school. MakerGirl’s target audience is girls between the ages of 7-10.

Since 2014, Engele, Haried and Hein have poured every free moment into teaching sessions across Illinois, where they hook young girls with coding, 3D printing and other technology skills. The program was so popular that it hit the road in 2016 with the MakerGirl mobile RV, canvassing more than 10,000 miles and holding more than 61 sessions in 17 states.

“If you have the ability to create change in the world and have the confidence to carry it out … it means transformed lives for girls,” Engele said.

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