The Last Word: Jordana Dahmen on Sparking STEM Passions With Barbies and the IF/THEN Initiative

“Every 4th of July I would strap my Barbies to fireworks. It was thrilling to see what happened to Barbie when she went into space.”

Jordana Dahmen
Research Coordinator
Vital Research
.…on being inspired by STEM learning as a girl when she discovered physics, via GeekWire.

In 2021, Dallas saw the launch of an extraordinary exhibition under the banner of the IF/THEN initiative, aimed at promoting women in science, technology, engineering, and math. The centerpiece: a collection of 120 life-sized, 3D-printed statues representing a diverse group of women STEM professionals.

The exhibit was celebrated as the largest 3D-printed exhibit of its kind, blending art and technology with inspiring results—and statues from the exhibit are now traveling across the U.S. to places like Pacific Science Center’s “Science for Everyone” exhibit in Seattle, where six were recently put on display.

Supported by Lyda Hill Philanthropies, the initiative is rooted in the belief that “If she can see it, then she can be it.” By providing visible role models for young girls and women, the now traveling exhibit shows that careers in STEM aren’t only possible, but are varied and exciting.

IF/THEN Exhibit at NorthPark in 2021. [IF/THEN Initiative]

It took a feat of modern technology to create the statues. Each one began as a 3D image, formed through a scanning process involving 89 cameras and 25 projectors. The detailed scanning took place in a specially designed booth. The images were brought to life through a meticulous printing process, where layers of acrylic gel were built up over several hours, resulting in brightly orange-hued, lifelike figures.

“For the longest time I thought I had to choose between my interests—I would either become an artist or a scientist—but never both,” said biomedical researcher Jaye Gardiner, one of the women portrayed in the Seattle exhibit, according to GeekWire. “However, that all changed when I met my high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Coy. He was an active musician and a science teacher.”

You can read the GeekWire story here.

For more of who said what about all things North Texas, check out Every Last Word.

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