Toowoomba startup Spark Girlz has taken out the top prize at the Asia Pacific regional finals of the inaugural Techstars Startup Weekend Women event.
Looking to help engage girls in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) through the creation of free and paid resources to help teachers in the classroom, Spark Girlz is the brainchild of Stephanie Piper, community engagement coordinator at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba.
Piper attended and pitched her idea at the Toowoomba Startup Weekend Women event held at Canvas Coworking in September, where she teamed up with cofounders Andrea Madden, Fiona Gray, and David Masefield to create Spark Girlz.
“You need to target that age because that’s the age children get interested in science and technology. If you don’t get them at that critical age, past that point they lose interest,” Piper said.
“I really want to be able to inspire young girls to do challenging things, and understand how enjoyable electronics and hardware is. Not many girls tend to have skills in this area.”
Winning the Toowoomba event, the Spark Girlz team travelled to Bali for the regional finals last month.
Bringing together participants from city events across Asia-Pacific, including Sydney, Shanghai, Manila, and Macau, the event sought to enable teams to share best practices, and build global connections.
“It was uplifting to know that by sharing our stories, concerns and ambitions for the world, we can be the catalyst for a stronger and inclusive world economy. Every one of the pitches presented [at the finals] had an element of this,” Madden said.
“Steph and I are humbled to have won this accolade in such a strong contingent of women.”
With the team to receive mentorship from Techstars experts as part of its prize, Spark Girlz aims to expand its range and produce electronics kits for primary school-age kids.
Also working in this space is New York-based company littleBits, which has created electronic building block, full of magnetic ‘bits’ that snap together to turn ideas into inventions.
Born with inclusivity in mind, littleBits has grown its community through a focus on STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths – and gender neutral product design.
Startup Daily had a chat with Emily Tuteur, director of product design at littleBits, on a recent episode of the Glass Ceiling podcast.