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The first week of the program was difficult in a surprising way. It wasn’t a test of time or endurance because there was not a whole lot to do but one of quality of ideas and execution. The tasks at hand for this week were helping Girls Inc with recruitment and picking our lesson plan ideas. Each Duke student in the program was tasked to pick an idea for their STEM lesson and hope that Girls Inc likes it enough to make it one of the four chosen ideas. I personally had difficulty choosing only one idea out of the many I came up with. I had a list full of ideas from short stories about women in STEM to making ice cream in a plastic bag.

But as I came up with more and more ideas, I saw potential flaws in the ones that seemed the most fun. These lesson plans are going to be done at home so no building or making anything unless everyone has it at home. I saw a potential problem with ice cream because people could be lactose intolerant or not have the milk. It’s also possible that some supplies everyone has are too important for their family’s everyday life to be used in a project. Spaghetti noodles and toilet paper could be great for building but they aren’t freely replenished, and we all know how important toilet paper has been recently. I settled on something that could be done completely online and at most invasive with pen and paper: cryptography. I hope that it can be a good foundation for computer science and math skills. I find puzzles and logic problems very invigorating because I love a challenge. Cryptography is a great way to bring my love of problem solving to new faces and maybe, if it is chosen, I can help another girl realize how much fun challenges and problem solving can be.