LEGO Robotics Club

The LEGO Robotics Club is offered a part of the ASAP after-school program for Gettysburg elementary schools. The 6-week program provides 4th and 5th grade girls the opportunity to explore computers and robotics technology in a nurturing, girls-only environment under the guidance of Gettysburg College students.

Research suggests that programs like this are effective tools to challenge the gender divide of men and women in high paying, technology-oriented careers. Check with your child’s teacher to register your child for the Fall or Spring sessions of LEGOs.

In 2011, Gettysburg High School student Kasey Rathgeber started a LEGOs program at Gettysburg Middle School to bridge the gap between our elementary school program and STEM Savvy at Gettysburg High School.

Find out how you can support LEGOs and our other women’s empowerment programs.

Fourth and 5th grade girls at Lincoln Elementary School work with Gettysburg College students to build and program robots during the Spring 2010 LEGO program.


STEAM Savvy is an all-girls after-school club for students at Gettysburg High School. The program encourages girls to explore science, technology, engineering, arts and math fields in which women are underrepresented. Instructors and mentors also assist students with college applications, interviewing skills, and other aspects of the college search, including visits to explore schools’ science departments. If you’re a Gettysburg High School student and you’d like to get involved with STEAM Savvy, contact chemistry teacher Kristen Bechtel.

Why should we encourage girls to get involved in STEAM? Read more here!

STEAM Savvy is featured on the YWCA USA’s Fresh@YW page!

STEAM Savvy is made possible through the generous support from our Hallmark Sponsors. Find out how you can support STEAM Savvy and other women’s empowerment programs.

FingerprintingAt left, club advisor Kristen Bechtel and girls in the 2013-2014 STEM Savvy program finish a fingerprinting lab as part of their focus on forensics.




Women in STEM

The following column was written by YWCA board member Jackie Milingo and published in the Gettysburg Times August 10, 2012.

The mission statement of the YWCA includes a dedication to eliminating racism and empowering women. This mission is not only inspiring; it is a strong declaration of necessary social change.  Based on 2010 data, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that half of our country is comprised of females (2011 estimate is 50.8 percent) and approximately 63 percent self-identify as “white.”  This rough cut of gender and racial distribution naturally (perhaps naively) leads one to expect the same representation of diversity in the working/professional world, at all levels of education, at all income levels, and in various positions of power and influence. When we don’t see this diversity in action it begs the question … why not?

Take the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (collectively known as STEM), for example.  Less than 20 percent of the STEM workforce is female (in many fields this number is closer to 10 percent).  People from “non-white” racial groups, those with different levels of physical ability, and those who occupy the range of gender identity and sexual orientation make up an even smaller fraction of STEM fields at all stages of education, training, and employment. Despite the diversity of our country, all of these people are severely underrepresented in STEM. Why is this something to pay attention to? The STEM workforce houses a great deal of the knowledge and innovation required for our country to address the very modern challenges of living in a global community with limited natural resources.  Increasing diversity in the STEM workforce not only empowers those who are so woefully underrepresented in these fields, increasing their economic, social, and political potential; it also injects a much-needed breadth of experience and perspectives to positions of power and influence. This ultimately benefits us all.

The leaky pipeline into STEM fields starts early in our society. The number of girls (let alone other underrepresented groups) interested in learning about science, math, and their applications continuously decreases throughout middle school and into high school, thus creating a loss of diversity before these young people even enter college, professional programs, and the workforce. It is key to encourage and support interests in STEM during the formative years when competing social constructs, stereotypes, biases, and cultural beliefs can negatively affect a young person’s sense of identity and potential. Many of the Hallmark and Mission programs of our YWCA exist to support this cause. After-school and summer programs such as the LEGO Robotics Club and STEM Savvy Club, those that specifically target girls, provide a fun, low-stakes environment which can spark and nurture an interest that is then carried forward. Supporting diversity in STEM and the empowerment of all underrepresented groups requires the action of an entire community, and our local YWCA is a proud contributor to this effort.

Jackie Milingo is an associate professor of physics at Gettysburg College and a member of the board of directors at the YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County. Contact her at 717-337-6076.

ENCORE Breast Cancer

The YWCA ENCORE Breast Cancer Support Group is here for breast cancer survivors, as well as those who are currently living with cancer and their caregivers.

Our group meets monthly and offers a variety of programming reflecting the needs of the members. We have wonderful speakers on health issues, treatments and nutrition. We explore exercise and its merits with participation in gentle floor exercise or swimming pool programs.  We want everyone to know how important regular exercise is, especially on the road to recovery and a healthier lifestyle! There are meetings where we just exchange information and a few simply social gatherings. All of these programs are open to any women; a YWCA membership is not required and there is no cost to participate.

Once faced with cancer, we are also faced with so many decisions to make. The ENCORE group is a tremendous tool for women facing decisions about their course of treatment. We have a great bunch of ladies, all ages and from all walks of life, compassionate and with a wonderful sense of humor. Our doors are always open to share our stories, help each other through difficult times, and laugh! As with any other diagnosis, a personal element is as valuable as the information given to us by the professionals.

The members of the YWCA ENCORE support group are part of the Pink Cadillacs, a team for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. We participate in fundraisers, sponsor an annual breast cancer awareness 5K, and partner with other community groups – all in an effort to bring information, consciousness and vigilance about breast cancer to women.

Click here for information on FREE mammograms and cervical cancer screenings for PA women.

Our group meets the fourth Tuesday of every month at the YWCA from 6:30-8 p.m. You may not feel that you are in need of support, but your presence and sharing your experiences could make a difference in the life of another woman. This is a sisterhood, or as some of us call it our “club.” It’s not that we are hoping for new members – we wish the incidence of breast cancer would sharply decline – but for those of you dealing with breast cancer, we hope we can make a difference in your life. Our group gives you the opportunity to exchange information and feelings with women just like you. Please consider joining us. E-mail Deb Geesey or call 334-9171, ext. 124 for more information, with contacts who would benefit from our support group, or with suggestions on presenters and future programming ideas.

Upcoming meetings and speakers:

Tuesday, June 27, 6 p.m. Field trip to Under the Horizon, 2650 Biglerville Road, with Cathleen Lerew. Learn about pouring, pulling, firing and finish a small ceramic figurine. Paint $8 – take with you; glaze $8.75 – pick up within 7-10 days.
Tuesday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. Water fitness class at YWCA.
Tuesday, Aug. 22, 6 p.m. Potluck social at Deb’s.