During the past school year more than 40 middle school island girls in Maine embarked on a new kind of adventure: Zoey’s Room, an online community designed specifically for girls between the ages of 9 and 14. Zoey’s Room (www.zoeysroom.com) is an online community with the goal of encouraging girls’ creativity through science, technology, engineering and math. Zoey’s Room’s mission is to engage girls in these subject areas as a lifetime track into high-paying jobs and to implement sound structures to economically empower young women. The program is delivered in a way that relates specifically to this age group through a safe social networking site where girls have a daily personal connection to “Zoey.”

On Dec. 20, girls from all of the 13 un-bridged island schools will celebrate Girl Power Across the Islands Day with a “virtual” party. Girls on each island will interact with each other in a variety of ways, such as chatting, completing Tec-Trek challenges, and talking to a “Fab Female” islander. With each Tec-Trek girls complete, they expand their knowledge on a range of 21st century skills, including Internet research, digital and video collages, robotics, engineering and website design. The more challenges girls complete, the more points they earn toward prizes such as wireless mice. Once the girls on each island have finished the Tec-Trek, everyone will sign on to the moderated chat room, where girls will have the chance to talk to one other as well as to a special Fab Female from one of the islands. A Fab Female is a professional in a science-technology-engineering-math career who comes into the chat room to chat with girls in real time. Girls learn more about her career, her educational background and anything else they would like to ask. Since the Fab Female will be an islander, it will be an opportunity for young girls talk with someone who has grown up like them and who has been able to use her education and training to make a life for herself on-island.

Linking island girls in this safe online community is an opportunity to bridge the distance between island schools. On some islands, there may be only one girl out of nine students in a K-8 school. This opportunity has been created for girls who may sometimes feel isolated and wonder if anyone else can possibly understand. Online communities like Zoey’s Room can reach out, making each girl feel more connected to each other and to the world around her.

Every island girl aged 9-14 is invited, so if you, or someone you know would like to join the virtual party and test out Zoey’s Room, please contact Ruth Kermish-Allen, Education Outreach Coordinator, at the Island Institute at rallen@islandinstitute.org or 594-9209 x117.